October 28, 2009

Nursing Home Doctors receive no Reprimand even as Facilities are Cited

by Levin & Perconti

Delores Fleming’s relatives placed her in Heritage Manor Nursing Home after her Alzheimer’s heightened. Although they had hoped to continue caring for their mother in her same two-story home, it became apparent that more skilled care was necessary. When she entered Heritage Manor near Decatur, Illinois she scored 23 out of a 30 on a mental exam and was deemed to be “moderately impaired.” However, after a few crying spells and wandering incidents, her doctor prescribed two antipsychotic drugs, despite the fact that she was not psychotic. The doctor doubled the dosage four times, which put the 76-year-old woman above her recommended limit. The Fleming family called in a neurologist, who found the victim glassy-eyed and catatonic. She was now scoring a zero on the mental exam. State regulators then cited the nursing home, Heritage Manor of Mount Zion, for the misuse of psychotropic drugs. Yet, the doctor who was primarily responsible for the victim’s medication emerged with no citations, no penalties and a spotless public record. This, unfortunately, is not a rare occurrence. A Chicago Tribune investigation found numerous instances in which regulators cited the nursing home facilities for misusing psychotropics even though the patients’ doctors had created the problems. Therefore the physician’s are not being fined for their nursing home negligence; no matter high they prescribe the medicine. In one case, a woman at the Fondulac Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in East Peoria grew weak and eventually died from the antipsychotic drug she was placed on. Some believe this problem results from the lack of familiarity between a doctor and his nursing home patient. Oftentimes doctors do not make enough time to visit with their patients. This lack of inattentiveness and willingness to place elderly people on strong medications has led to great numbers of nursing home negligence. To read more about the chemical restraints, please click the link.