All those who are involved in ensuring quality elder care and the prevention of nursing home abuse have been closely following the developments related to atypical antipsychotic drug use in long-term care facilities. Earlier this year our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers shared information on the new research from the Office of Inspector General related to atypical antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes. The OIG report specifically focused on how these drugs were incorrectly prescribed to residents in violation of Medicare payment rules. As a new article in Caring for the Ages explained, there are many legal issues surrounding these new revelations of dangerous antipsychotic drug use that amount to nursing home neglect.
The main issue is that the vast majority of nursing home residents who receive antipsychotic drug in these facilities are given them for “off label” reasons, or purposes which have not been approved for safe use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. For example, common off-label uses include agitation in dementia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, and autism. Not only have they not been approved for these uses, but they are often particular dangerous for those suffering from these conditions. Elderly patients with dementia in particular face serious risks if they are given these drugs. Over six years ago the FDA required drug makers to include a black-box warning (label) on these medications warning that dementia patients who are prescribed these atypical antipsychotics face an increased risk of death.
A federal lawsuit related to the issue was filed nearly three years ago. That nursing home lawsuit involved the care provided to a 68-year old woman suffering from dementia among many other ailments. The woman had been given .5 mg of risperidone (an atypical antipsychotic) while at a hospital and was then given a shocking 5 mg of the drug twice each day when transferred to a nursing home after her hospital care ended. She had cardiac arrest and died 11 days after entering the facility. Federal investigators eventually discovered that the facility was negligent in this use of the medication.
Other lawsuits have also been filed connected to these damaging prescriptions, including in Illinois. In our state a medical negligence sure was filed against a long-term psychiatric-care facility for use of the drug which reasonably violated their duty as reasonable healthcare providers. In that case a woman was prescribed risperidone and had an adverse reaction. She had neck pain, stiffness, and twitching stemming from the prescription. However, staff members at the negligent facility failed to report those symptoms or recognize them as related to the dangerous drug use.
Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers at Levin & Perconti well understands the prevalence of the problematic prescription of atypical antipsychotic drugs for off-label uses in nursing homes. Many vulnerable residents in our area continue to be injured in a myriad of ways because of these negligent prescriptions. We urge all local residents to keep a close eye on all medications prescribed to their loved one, asking questions whenever you are unsure about the need or safety of the drug.
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