As our loved ones get older, it can be difficult for them to manage their daily medication on their own. Because of this, many elderly people rely on nursing home staff to ensure that they receive the medication they need.
While sedatives, anti-anxiety medication or antipsychotics may help some residents, nursing home staff may also give these drugs to elderly people without medical need or even without their families’ knowledge and consent. Since 1987, United States law has prohibited nursing homes from using unnecessary medications while working with residents, but many violate this law. Has your loved one been the victim of this abuse?
Why might nursing homes give patients unnecessary medication?
Many nursing homes are understaffed, and unscrupulous nursing facilities or staff members may use drugs to make residents calmer, more docile and easier to control. Others use these drugs to discipline residents that they see as unruly. As Human Rights Watch notes, chemical restraints are often used on patients with dementia as a way to limit behavior that the staff see as “disruptive,” even if that behavior expresses physical pain.
No matter the cause, chemical restraints are a violation of patients’ rights. Worse, many drugs often used as chemical restraints can lead to significant side effects and increased risk of death.
Overmedication is more common than you may think.
Despite the decades since chemical restraints were prohibited by law, the Washington Post reports that as many as 179,000 residents are given unnecessary antipsychotic drugs each year. In fact, more than 15% of residents who spend more than 100 days in a nursing home facility will be given unnecessary antipsychotics.
If you believe that your loved one has been the victim of chemical restraint, it is important to act quickly to protect your loved one from this mistreatment. An attorney can help you address your suspicions, explore your options and take action against nursing homes that put staff convenience over the law and your loved one’s safety.