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4 chemical restraints that are wrongfully used in nursing homes

If you were told that your loved one had been kept in physical restraints while staying at a nursing home, you would undoubtedly be upset and alarmed. If you were told that they had been chemically restrained, though, you might be unclear about what exactly had occurred. According to NPR, more than 300,000 residents in nursing homes are on antipsychotic drugs, and the drugs are often misused by staff in an attempt to calm and control seniors. The following four drugs are often used for such purposes. 


Xanax is a commonly used medication to treat depression or paranoia, but in nursing homes, it may be wrongfully prescribed and abused by nursing home staff seeking to sedate patients. In addition to the obvious abuse of such a practice, this can pose additional dangers to nursing home residents by rendering them unable to fully function and impairing speech and motor functions. These side effects may increase the likelihood of falls and other accidents, too.


Risperdal is typically prescribed to the general public to treat bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. In a nursing home, however, staff may prescribe it under the guise of calming irritability. Much like other drugs that are commonly abused, it is likely going to cause a range of unappealing side effects, including nausea, aching, fever and confusion. More importantly, though, it can inhibit patients’ natural emotions and reactions, which is dangerous to say the least.


Haldol is an antipsychotic drug that is used to treat a range of mental disorders. If it is prescribed to a patient who does not suffer from a mental disorder, though, its effects are likely going to be alarming. Nursing home patients may be prescribed Haldol for purported symptoms of delirium, but it is often abused and used instead to simply sedate or incapacitate patients who have no need for the drug.


In addition to antipsychotics, benzodiazepines are commonly employed by nursing home staff with ulterior motives. Lorezepam is an example of this. Though it is typically prescribed for seizures, insomnia and a range of other common issues, it can also be abused for the purposes of sedating patients or subduing agitation. These uses are a clear violation of patients’ rights and autonomy.

Chemical restraints such as these are just one aspect of nursing home abuse, and if you suspect a loved one is a victim, you should be aware of your legal options. Contact an attorney to find out more about legal recourse.


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