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National Long-Term Care Advocacy Group Calls for Review of Antipsychotic Nursing Home Drug Use

Our Chicago nursing home neglect lawyers have been vocal advocates against the misuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. Far too many seniors have their well-being significantly reduced and their health adversely affected by the over-prescription of certain kind of drugs in these facilities. As we’ve repeatedly explained, these drugs have been found to increase the risk of death when given to dementia patients. Yet, their use continues, unnecessarily in many contexts, often because they essentially “sedate” the seniors and make them easier to control. Their misuse in our area is simply another form of Illinois nursing home neglect where healthcare provider ease is prioritized over resident well-being.

Fortunately, more and more advocates are speaking up about the problems posed by these drugs. For example, a nursing home advocacy reform group recently called upon the United States Department of Health and Human Services to address the issue. In making the call, the organization explained that more than 26% of all nursing home patients in the country, more than 350,000 seniors, are given antipsychotic drugs. Much of that use is to “chemically restrain” residents, particularly those with dementia. Instead of caring for these residents appropriately, the drugs are often a shortcut that subdues the residents.

This misuse remains an epidemic, because chemical restraints result in loss of independence, confusion, falls, and much untold misery for the senior victims. In addition, there are significant health risks for residents. As we’ve repeatedly shared, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not approved antipsychotic drugs for treatment of dementia. In fact, there is a block box warning to the effect that use of these drugs increase the risk of death. With the risks and side-effects, there is little reason for the seniors and their families to approve use of these drugs. Yet, far too often, those families are not adequately made aware of these issues. Still on other occasions, no permission is received at all before the drugs are given to unaware seniors.

As a result of all of this, many senior care groups are working to mobilize federal resources to limit the harm. Calls are being made to urge federal agencies-which pay for much of this drug use-to enact stricter standards to limit abuse of these antipsychotics. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services is also being called on to establish high-profile education campaigns to advise consumers, nursing home employees, and physicians about these dangers in an effort to encourage alternative treatments.

The Chicago injury lawyers at our firm are proud to fight for the right of all victims of others negligence to seek redress in the court system. Over the years we have found that one group especially prone to being victims of neglect and negligence are the vulnerable seniors who live each day depending on the caregiving of others. Yet this group is only rarely vindicated. Most instances of neglect go unreported, which is a key reason why the mistreatment continues unabated. It is time that changed. We hope that all oversight bodies, including the U.S. Health and Human Services Department steps up to combat the pervasive nursing home neglect that occurs in the form of misused antipsychotic drugs.

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