Misuse and Overuse of Drugs and Medications in Nursing Homes

misuse of medications in Ohio nursing homesA California nursing home is being sued for allegedly over-drugging a patient in order to receive that patient’s Social Security payments. A patient named Martha Davis has filed suit against the Country Villa of Seal Beach, alleging that the institution had given her the psychotropic (mind-altering) drug Ativan without a prescription, in order to get her to give up her government payments to them.

Now, these are just allegations, and they may be the ravings of a paranoid, but this lawsuit does point out the fact that many nursing home patients are treated with psychiatric drugs, and that, if you have a loved one in a nursing home, these situations both the use of these drugs, and the economics of the home, need to be closely monitored. These drugs can often be administered without the consent of either the patient or the family.

In fact, at least one set of statistics shows that twenty-five percent of nursing home patients are being treated with psychoactive chemicals. And the United States Senate is now getting involved. Another set puts the percentage of nursing home patients undergoing psychiatric treatment at over 70%. Beyond that, the money situation always has to be closely monitored.

Statistics seem to show that the use, or misuse, of psychoactive drugs in nursing homes has risen alarmingly in the last ten years or so. California is at least one state that has had a coalition created to combat the misuse of psychiatric drugs among the elderly. Florida is even worse, according to a recent New York Times article. Within three months of admission, a team of University of South Florida researchers determined, 71 percent of Medicaid residents in Florida nursing homes were receiving a psychoactive medication — an antidepressant or anti-psychotic, say, or dementia drugs — even though most were not taking such drugs in the months before they moved in and didn’t have psychiatric diagnoses. Fifteen percent of residents were taking four or more such medications. But only 12 percent were getting nondrug treatments like behavioral therapy.

While there are certainly times in which the use of anti-depressants and other drugs are for the benefit of the patients, it is also true that many nursing homes unfortunately use those kinds of drugs, as well as even stronger drugs, to control patients so that they require less care and attention.

In every visit to one of these facilities, our nursing home abuse attorney staff sees numerous “zombies” who are bedridden, not by illness or injury, but simply by drugs that are designed to rob these poor patients of their ability to even get out of bed.

Even the United State Senate is aware of this problem. Senators Chuck Grassley and Herb Kohl, the co-chairs of the U.S. Senate Special Committee on Aging, one a Republican and one a Democrat, recently expressed concerns about the role of nursing home pharmacists in the “overutilization” of antipsychotic drugs. Citing the financial incentives inherent to pharmacists to increase drug use, the Senators sent a letter on August 1, 2011, encouraging the Center for Medicare Services to take action, via Medicare Part D, to subject antipsychotic prescriptions to increased oversight. By curbing drug overutilization, the federal government would save money on erroneous payments and residents would be spared the increased mortality associated with antipsychotics.

If you visit a loved one who was cheery one day and virtually immobile the next, you need to check to see what drugs are being given. The pharmaceutical industry and the lower-skilled nursing staff who only want to control patient behavior are working against you.

Giving drugs without consent, giving the wrong medication, overmedicating, and using psychoactive drugs to control patients are all signs of nursing home abuse.

If you have any questions about this area of nursing home care, please contact us by calling 1-800-297-9191 for a FREE consultation with an experienced nursing home abuse attorney or send us a Blog Message to schedule a time to talk.

Learn more about all types of nursing home abuse and neglect in Ohio by visiting  http://www.stopohionursinghomeabuse.com.

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About slaterzurz

Slater & Zurz LLP is an Ohio law firm of highly experienced and respected attorneys. Over the last 40 years, we have developed a reputation for getting positive results for clients. We've been trusted with handling over 20,000 personal injury cases and our clients have received more than $120,000,000.

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2 Comments on “Misuse and Overuse of Drugs and Medications in Nursing Homes”

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