Nursing homes are meant to be safe places where we can rest easy that our loved ones are being well cared for. Sometimes, however, this isn’t the case. There are many incidents that prove that nursing home abuse and neglect is far more widespread than many would imagine. One of the concerns regarding elderly in nursing homes is possible overmedication. While many medications are necessary for older individuals, they must be provided and administered properly.
Medications to Sedate Residents
Some findings indicate that medications are prescribed for residents who are unruly or disruptive. This can occur more frequently with patients who are mentally ill or who are battling Alzheimer’s. However, it may be unclear whether the medication is simply provided as a way to sedate patients without having to deal with their problems.
Understaffing at nursing homes continues to be a concern. Many workers and aides are underpaid and trained staff is more difficult to find and keep. The result is that many nursing homes may not provide the highest level of care possible. If there aren’t enough workers to care for the patients, the staff could resolve some high-maintenance patient care through moderate sedation. Medication may be used as a way to allow for easier patient care.
It’s true that elderly people generally take more prescription medications than others. They may have one or several medical conditions that warrant taking drugs. Drug interaction could be a problem that is overlooked in some situations. This can occur when multiple doctors are prescribing medications without the benefit of a complete medical history or chart. Medications can have negative interactions and some could actually cause death. More often, however, patients that are overmedicated are simply less alert quieter than normal.
Federal law prohibits the use of antipsychotic drugs or psychoactive drugs simply for the convenience of medical staff. Known as chemical restraint, the use of drugs to sedate a patient is not allowed. However, drugs are often prescribed based on the perceived need and because of staff requests. Doctors may rely heavily on the recommendation of nurses and other caretakers to describe the patient’s symptoms. Chemical restraint, unfortunately, is sometimes utilized – not always in the best interest of the patient.
What to Do About Overmedication
Overmedication is a complex problem. It can be difficult for relatives to know whether their loved one is on the proper type and amount of medication or whether it is being used as a sedative. Discuss the list of medications that are being taken with the primary physician and make sure that you understand the reason for each one. If you see a change in the resident’s behavior or demeanor do not hesitate to ask about medications, which could be the cause. Confirm that prescribed medications do not have any negative interactions and that the drugs are being administered according to doctor’s instructions.
Patient overmedication may be a form of nursing home abuse. If you think that your loved one may be the victim of nursing home abuse contact the compassionate attorneys at Levin and Perconti to discuss the situation as soon as possible.
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