Nationwide, nursing home staff abuses psychoactive drugs to lighten workloads

Among the many forms of nursing home abuse and neglect, there is one common offense that is being habitually overlooked. Unfortunately, it has become a regular practice in nursing homes or long-term care facilities to sedate patients with medication instead of using them for their intended purposes. Staff often gives patients medication to make their job easier. If they are understaffed, which is by no means uncommon, or if patients are displaying a degree of behavioral issues, medication can be used to lighten the workload. Unnecessary use of psychoactive drugs can cause serious side effects. Psychiatrists may not even be prescribing many of these medications. Instead, regular doctors can write prescriptions “as needed” and leave the distribution up to the nursing home staff. Nursing homes have been fighting medical malpractice lawsuits due to the abuse of the drugs, but the percentages of patients being administered antidepressants and antipsychotics is astounding. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) calculated that 27% of patients in nursing home nationwide are being administered antipsychotics, and a shocking 52% are being administered antidepressants. In Illinois, 33.2% of patients are given antipsychotics, over 5% above the national average. 47% are given antidepressants. These figures are well above what should be a proportional amount of patients receiving medication. If you have a loved one in a nursing home, it is vital to carefully monitor the medication they may be receiving.

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