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Nursing Homes Chemically Restraining their Residents

Channel 10 News in San Diego reported on troubling claims of nursing home abuse made by the daughter of a nursing home resident who died at the facility last year. The abuse was an example of “chemical restraint,” where residents are essentially fed drugs in order to ensure that they are essentially immobile, so that nursing home staff members can do even less work to care for them.

Dr. Keith Blair was a lifelong dentist before entering Arbor Hill Nursing Center to help cope with some mild dementia. Dr. Blair’s health was suffering, and the care workers at the facility were supposed to provide close care to help Dr. Blair recoup. However, instead of providing close monitoring, the nursing staff at the facility gave him doses of anti-psychotic drugs, Risperdal and Haldol, without his consent. Both drugs contain specifics warnings as having increased mortality risks in elderly patients.

The negligent nursing home staff willfully committed the medication error as a way to control their residents. Dr. Reid’s daughter remembers visiting her father only to discover that he was completely out of it while on the medication, unable to leave the bed or remain active in any way. Ultimately, the unlawful use of drugs led to Dr. Reid’s death not long after his arrival at the facility.

Unfortunately, Dr. Reid’s case is not an isolated incident. In fact, the problem is reaching huge proportions. A federal Food and Drug administration expert, Dr. David Graham reported to Congress last year that upwards of 15,000 elderly nursing home residents die each year because of this off-label use of drugs.

Even more startling is the fact that tax-payers currently pay the bill for these drugs given to elderly nursing home residents. As nursing home reform advocate Carole Herman explains, “We are basically paying for elderly abuse in this country.”

The cause of this deadly and destructive drugging practice is a drive for ever increasing profits for the nursing home industry. On top of that, many states provide only weak oversight of these medical restraints in their nursing homes. That means that the problem will likely continue to plague thousands of elderly Americans each year.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are proud to fight for the rights of victims of nursing home abuse and their families. Our decades of legal experiences have shown us that nursing home negligence comes in many forms, including the unnecessary use of anti-psychotic drugs to control residents. Our elderly deserve respect and proper care when they enter these homes. If you suspect any chemical restraint at a nearby nursing home, contact a skilled nursing home attorney to learn how to help end the abusive practice.