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Why Overuse of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes Can Be Considered Abuse

man_in_nursing_homeAntipsychotic drugs are used to treat mental health patients who suffer from bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and other types of psychosis.

Unfortunately, some nursing homes staff members are giving these drugs to patients who suffer from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and other conditions without a proper medical diagnosis to justify prescribing them. This can be a form of nursing home abuse that can cause a resident to suffer serious side effects and even death.

What Are Antipsychotic Drugs?

Antipsychotic drugs are used to help patients manage hallucinations, delusions, and disorderly thoughts caused by bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. While these drugs can be helpful, they also come with serious side effects.

Common antipsychotic drugs include:

  • Seroquel (quetiapine)
  • Risperdal (risperidone)
  • Zyprexa (olanzapine)
  • Abilify (aripiprazole)
  • Clozaril (clozapine)
  • Geodon (ziprasidone)

How Nursing Homes Improperly Prescribe Antipsychotic Drugs

Many residents live at a nursing home because they can no longer take care of themselves due to dementia or Alzheimer’s disease. These medical conditions can cause a resident to be confused, agitated, and hostile.

Nursing home staff may improperly use antipsychotic drugs as a chemical restraint to help control and manage the resident’s behavior, or as a convenience because of staffing problems. In addition, staff members don't always consider the other medications residents are taking when prescribing antipsychotics and the possibility of dangerous side effects due to overmedication.

Patients have a right to be informed of changes in their treatment plans, which includes the reasoning for prescribing antipsychotic drugs. They should be warned of the side effects that and should give informed consent to the treatment. When they're not mentally competent to make these choices, a family member or other person designated to make medical decisions should be given this information. Unfortunately, many patients are prescribed antipsychotic drugs without authorized consent.

Nursing home residents who suffer from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease can suffer serious side effects from the use of antipsychotic drugs. These drugs have been linked to an increased risk of death in patients who suffer from dementia.

Possible side effects that a nursing home resident could experience include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Confusion
  • Increased risk of swollen ankles
  • Parkinson-like symptoms, such as shaking and unsteadiness
  • Heightened risk of infections
  • Increased risk of developing blood clots
  • Increased risk of having a stroke
  • Worsening of other symptoms of dementia
  • Death


Is your loved one suffering because of questionable intake of antipsychotic drugs at his nursing home? You may need to help him stop the nursing home abuse and file a claim for compensation for his injuries. To learn how attorney Alan Morton can help you assert your family member’s legal rights, fill out our online form to schedule your free consultation.