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Is Over-Medicating Considered Nursing Home Abuse?

Florida residents with family members living in nursing homes or other assisted-care facilities want to know that their loved ones are properly cared for. It is stressful enough making the decision to put an elderly loved one in a nursing home; you shouldn’t have the added stress of worrying about their well-being.

Why would nursing facilities, over-medicate patients?

Long before laws and regulations were in place to make sure nursing home abuse did not occur, over-medicating residents were one way that staff could keep tight control over patients. Elderly patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease can sometimes become combative, and anti-psychotics or sedatives in small doses can be helpful in calming these patients.

There are benefits for both staff and patients when these medicines are medically necessary. However, some facilities have used these potent medications to keep patients calm and sleepy for most of the day. This resulted in less attention required from staff, and the facility ran more efficiently but caused a decline in those patients’ health in some cases.

Why over-medicating is considered nursing home abuse

The drugs used to control patients can be harmful in large doses. This can result in permanent injury or even death to the patient. When a patient is medicated with drugs they do not need, they are susceptible to unnecessary side effects and risk.

Most families would prefer that their loved ones were treated without drugging them to the point of sleeping most of their days away. Additionally, over-medicating can be used as a bandage, temporarily covering up the true issues that are causing the patient’s agitation. If a non-verbal patient is in pain, has soiled clothing, or is hungry or thirsty, it is important for staff to address these issues. Neglecting the basic needs of patients can be considered nursing home abuse.

Preventing nursing home abuse

Keeping in contact with your elderly loved one and the nursing home facility is a good way to make sure they are receiving the care they need. Always consult with staff whenever you suspect or are told that medication or dosage is being changed. This way, you can consult other doctors over the necessity of increased medication.

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