Nursing homes may misuse antipsychotic drugs to control residents

When Oklahoma families decide whether a nursing home is a good fit for their loved ones, they may need to research whether some facilities misuse antipsychotic drugs to control residents.

We have helped clients advocate for the best interests of their family members in nursing homes.

Nursing homes may use antipsychotic medications to restrain residents

Human Rights Watch suggests that nursing homes may prescribe antipsychotic drugs to keep residents calm and compliant. The sedating effects of antipsychotic medications have the potential to control dementia-related symptoms like irritability, wandering, delusions or agitation. However, these drugs may also have dangerous side effects like blood clots, stroke, pneumonia and even death. Some studies suggest that antipsychotic drugs may double the risk of death in seniors with dementia.

Nursing homes may dispense medications without the informed consent of residents or their families. Staff members may minimize side effects, use guilt to coerce consent, falsely promise unproven clinical benefits or hide medication in food.

Government action may help end abuse

Government agencies may take several steps to put an end to misuse of these drugs in nursing homes:

  • Improve weak inspection and enforcement practices that allow facilities to act without fear of sanctions.
  • Disallow antipsychotics where the drug serves as a chemical restraint or does not otherwise have a sound clinical purpose.
  • Require facilities to secure informed consent before dispensing medication.
  • Address staffing problems that result in inadequate numbers of nurses, high turnover rates and training deficiencies.

There may be clues that your family member suffers from nursing home neglect. Our website suggests ways you may monitor the nursing home care your loved one receives.

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