Over the past several days we have posted on a common form of Illinois nursing home neglect: abuse of antipsychotic drugs. The overuse of these medications-Risperdal, Seroquel, Zyprexa, and others-is one of the prime factors leading to nursing home resident apathy and overall decreases in their quality of life. It should be obvious that no resident should be on these medications unless they are clearly needed to treat a medical condition.
However, as the well-publicized new federal research demonstrates, there remains a rash of misuse, overuse, and unnecessary use of these nursing home medications. For example, one of six prohibited practices by Medicare involves antipsychotic drug use where there are inadequate indications of the need. Generally, this means that the drugs are given to a patient without a pertinent rationale for doing so.
In many cases the inadequate indication of need is found when the drugs are used to treat certain symptoms while ignoring the underlying medical issue that causes those symptoms. Often a resident will be suffering from an uncomfortable problem, such as a urinary tract infection, and exhibit certain symptoms like restlessness and agitation. Instead of corrected the actual issue-the infection-many nursing home care workers simply prescribed antipsychotic medication to deal with the agitation.
As a result, the underlying condition goes untreated and the resident suffers through side effects of these drugs unnecessarily. It remains a potent problem that needs to be addressed.
Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti have always believed that our area nursing home residents are full members of our community who deserved to be treated as such. Overmedication regimes that treat these seniors as mere bodies to be managed show an ignorance of their need to maximize overall quality of life. Be sure to keep a close eye on your loved ones in area facilities and makes sure that they do not become victims of unnecessary antipsychotic medication use.
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