Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers have long been aware of the “chemical restraint” problem in many local facilities. This refers to the use of certain medications in facilities not because they are necessary for the health of the resident but because they make the senior easier to control. Of course, the drug use has significant detrimental effects on the quality of life of the resident and poses unique health risks to certain seniors. Under no circumstances should local nursing home residents be given these powerful medications unless completely necessary. Overmedication of residents in these ways is clearly a form of elder abuse and it needs to be curbed.
Fortunately, more and more voices are standing up against the dangerous overuse of these drugs. For example, the Consumer Voice recently sent out a call urging local advocates to play a role in ending the misuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. Curbing the drug use is at the top of the organization’s advocacy agenda this week, and they noted how it can result in confusion, falls, loss of independence, and even death. The problem is significant considering that twenty six percent of all nursing home residents in all facilities across the country receive some form of antipsychotic medication. Among those who have cognitive impairments-like dementia-the rate is a shocking forty percent. That number is made is even more stark when one considers that the drug has not be approved by used with dementia patients and actually has a “black box” warning that use among dementia patients may lead to a higher risk of death.
Clearly the situation has gotten out of hand, and it important for all those who care about the lives of this vulnerable community to work to change the situation. There are various efforts being taken at the national level to curb the problem. For example, tomorrow, Wednesday, November 30th, the Senate Special Committee on Aging is holding a hearing on the issue. The meeting will take place at 2 p.m. in Room 562 of the Dirksen senate Office Building. For all those not in the Washington D.C. area, the hearing will be broadcast online. Entitled, “Overprescribed: The Human and Taxpayers’ costs of Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes,” the hearing will include a wide range of testimony including that of a member of the Consumer Voice’s Leadership Council-Toby Edelman. In addition, the Consumer Voice’s public policy resolutions on over-prescription will be included in the testimony.
Besides following these federal developments, the Consumer Voice is also encouraging advocates to follow a letter which will begin gathering signatures this week related to the conflict of interest of long-term care pharmacists. The letter will specifically address proposed Centers for Medicare and Medicaid proposals which would issue regulations to end consultant pharmacists’ ability to become affiliated with long-term care pharmacies or companies leading to inappropriate prescribing of those businesses’ drugs. That connection between the pharmacist and company also leads to inappropriate marketing of antipsychotic drugs.
The Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers at Levin & Perconti understand the harm that these overmedications have on so many vulnerable seniors. We urge all local residents to following the committee hearing, sign the Consumer Voice letter, and take a stand against these inappropriate actions. Collective effort is always the best way to enact system-wide change that may improve the lives of millions of these vulnerable friends and family members and put an end to this form of nursing home neglect.
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