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Is Your Loved One’s Nursing Home Overprescribing Antipsychotic Drugs?

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Many elderly nursing home residents are regularly prescribed antipsychotic drugs although federal law restricts their use. According to a National Public Radio investigative report, 300,000 nursing home residents receive these drugs—usually to suppress the anxiety, aggression, confusion, and memory problems that are symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The Dangers of Using Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes

Antipsychotic drugs like Seroquil, Haldol, Thorazine, Abilify, Risperdal, and Zyprexa have been approved to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. When given to elderly nursing home patients, they can cause the following problems:

  • Many residents take one of the 10 or more medications that can adversely react with antipsychotic drugs.
  • Residents can become over sedated, confused, listless, and unresponsive, and are more prone to falling as a result—sometimes suffering serious fractures.
  • Use of antipsychotic drugs has been linked with an increased risk of respiratory infections and strokes.
  • Patients with dementia are at a higher risk of infections, heart failure, and death when given antipsychotic drugs.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a black box warning against using antipsychotic drugs to treat dementia, but did not prohibit doctors from using them. However, it is a violation to use antipsychotic and psychoactive drugs as a convenience for nursing home staff and is known as a “chemical restraint.” Doctors prescribing these drugs must show a medical need for their use. Unfortunately, the practice of using antipsychotic drugs improperly remains a huge nursing home problem and is a form of elder abuse.

If a family member has been unnecessarily given antipsychotic drugs, he may be entitled to compensation for his injuries. You may need to step in and help him pursue his legal options. I have helped many families dealing with this difficult problem. Call me at 888.716.8021 to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.

Category: Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect


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