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Standing Up For Seniors Report: Chemical Restraints

The American Association for Justice released a comprehensive new report entitled, “Standing Up For Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans.” Today we being our in-depth consideration of the issues raised in the report by discussing one of the most common (and heartbreaking) aspects of negligent nursing home care.

Chemical restraints refer to a regime of medication administered to nursing home residents in an effort to mentally and physically control seniors at these facilities. In much the same way that any physical means of limiting the actions of a person, chemical restraints act as a severe limitation on the freedom of vulnerable seniors. Use of chemical restraints has increased in nursing homes recently. New research has shown that 71% of nursing home residents are prescribed psychoactive medication within three months of being admitted to a facility. The vast majority of these residents were not diagnosed with a psychiatric problem, meaning that the drugs are administered solely as a means of controlling the residents.

One Alzheimer’s specialist explains, “Way too many patients in nursing homes are treated with antipsychotics purely to sedate them or to control their behaviors that are difficult for the staff.”

One Illinois physician has a medication practice for nursing homes that has been described as an “assembly line,” with the same slate of controlling drugs prescribed to everyone regardless of their actual need.

The negative effects of this abuse are clear. Experts have identified clear side-effects for those seniors given these drugs, especially when combined with other prescriptions that a resident may have. For many patients the drugs lead to delirium, confusion, falls, and ultimately more hospitalizations and injuries. Also, the Food and Drug administration warns that there could be an increased risk of death associated with these drugs if given to dementia patients.

Our Chicago nursing home lawyers at Levin & Perconti are committed to working with the victims of this type of abuse and their families to eliminate the scourge of unneeded chemical restraint. Our lawyers can help get patients off unnecessary drugs and seek vindication for harm caused by the nursing home abuse. Please be sure to speak with a nursing home attorney to learn what can be done if you know someone who has been victimized by unneeded drugs.

We will continue our examination of the AAJ Report tomorrow and take a closer looks at forced arbitration clauses in many nursing home contracts.

Please Click Here to view the full copy of this report.