In Birmingham, Homewood, Mountain Brook, Vestavia Hills and surrounding locations, senior citizens live in nursing home care facilities where they depend upon staff members to provide adequate care. It is especially common for people with dementia to live in a nursing home setting once these individuals are no longer able to take care of themselves.
Dementia and other medical conditions can make senior care difficult. Nursing home staff needs to be attentive to the needs of residents and ensure that the residents are safe. In some cases, however, staff members are taking a step to make their own work lives easier that significantly harms patients. They are medicating patients to make resident behavior easier to control, even when the residents do not need the medications they are being given. A nursing home abuse lawyer knows how dangerous it is when seniors are given medications they don't need for an improper purpose. This type of over-medicating is a serious form of nursing home abuse that could worsen the patient's condition or that could even lead to death.
Over-medication of Nursing Home Abuse Patients is a Major Risk
Typically, when staff members improperly medicate seniors, they do so using anti-psychotic drugs. Antipsychotics are powerful medications that are intended to treat mental disorders such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. However, they are being given to senior citizens who do not suffer from any mental condition.
There are lots of reasons why staff members of nursing homes are dosing patients with antipsychotic drugs. These medications have a calming and sedating effect. They can quiet patients who are making too much noise, which NPR reports happened to one particular patient featured in a story on problems of overmedication in nursing homes. They can calm demanding patients who are a drain on staffs' time. They essentially act as chemical restraints, making patients much easier to manage.
NPR reports that as many as 88 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes were for patients with dementia. These medications are not approved by the FDA for treating dementia, but dementia patients notoriously suffer from behavioral issues that make them hard to treat.
Nursing homes are prescribing these medications to help alleviate the aggressiveness and anxiety that are hallmarks of dementia. The government started a campaign to get nursing homes to reduce the use of antipsychotics by 15 percent over the course of a year. While a 15 percent reduction did occur, it took two years to happen. There were still around 300,000 nursing home patients on these prescription antipsychotic meds even after the reduction.
The problem is that antipsychotic medications increase the risk of heart failures; infections; falls and fatalities. Patients are not able to give informed consent to taking these risks in many cases, and families are not being consulted. When a patient does experience adverse consequences, family members may be able to take action against the nursing home for the damages caused by improper chemical restraint.
Victims of Birmingham, AL nursing home abuse should consult with a personal injury lawyer at Shuttlesworth Law Firm LLC. Call 866-583-1885 today. Serving Birmingham, suburbs of Homewood, Mountain Brook and Vestavia Hills and surrounding locations.