Misuse of antipsychotic drugs put nursing home residents at risk
Antipsychotic drugs are given to thousands of nursing home residents each day, even when it's not necessary. When these drugs are misused, they can put the lives of nursing home residents at risk.
Many nursing home facilities are not held accountable when a resident is harmed as a result, according to a recent report by health researchers working for Massachusetts Democratic Congressman Richard Neal. Neal is also the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
What were the key finding of the study?
NPR reported on the Congressional report and highlighted its key findings:
- Nearly 300,000 nursing home residents were given antipsychotic drugs each week. Most of those residents did not have psychosis.
- By the end of the Obama administration and first half of the Trump administration, fewer citations were issued for drug misuse.
- Regulations enacted by the Obama administration were rolled back under the Trump administration.
- Nursing home facilities that were fined for misuse of drugs only faced extremely low fines.
According to NPR, the Trump administration also:
- Made it harder to sue nursing home facilities for poor care linked to neglect
- Changed the assessment of fines resulting in a decline in financial penalties
- Made it easier for nursing home facilities to prescribe antipsychotic drugs
When are antipsychotic drugs necessary?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), antipsychotic drugs should only be prescribed to those who suffer from serious mental illness. These drugs are usually prescribed to people with schizophrenia, which usually affects people under the age of 30, not older nursing home residents.
Many elderly nursing home residents suffer from dementia. Yet, when antipsychotic drugs are given to them, it can significantly increase the risk of death. In addition, the NPR report says that falls in nursing homes can be linked to the misuse of drugs.
According to the Congressional report, nursing homes may be misdiagnosing residents with mental illness to justify giving them antipsychotic drugs. In order to better protect nursing home residents, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is working to prevent the misuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes.
Call us if your loved one was harmed by dangerous drugs
Placing your loved one in a nursing home is a difficult choice to make. You may have put your trust in the facility where your loved one resides after doing your research. Then, you find out that your loved one was harmed after being given a drug that wasn't needed or had serious side effects.
When a resident is harmed due to negligence, nursing homes often refuse to accept any wrongdoing on their part. In some cases, they even try to cover it up. That's why it's important that you consult with an experienced nursing home abuse and neglect attorney who knows how to investigate nursing home facilities.