A new report by AARP exposes the overuse of antipsychotic and other dangerous medications to nursing home patients. According to nursing home statistics from the University of California, one in five nursing home patients are given antipsychotic drugs that are unnecessary. These drugs are also often extremely dangerous, especially for elderly patients.
A major issue with many nursing homes is they are understaffed. There should be one CNA to every seven patients, but the average nursing home ratio is one CNA for every 15 patients. There are also very few physicians on staff at nursing homes.
Antipsychotic drugs are given to patients as a “chemical restraint” to keep patients who may be suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, dementia or other conditions sedated and quiet. Many drug manufacturers marketed these drugs to nursing homes to be used in this manner. Last year, several drug companies were fined more than $2.2 billion for touting the use of antipsychotics to nursing homes, even though the companies knew the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had not approved their use in elderly patients.
The report highlights the case of a 79 year old California woman who was admitted to a nursing home for aftercare due to a broken pelvis. At the time she was admitted, the woman was only on two prescription medications: one for her cholesterol and one for high blood pressure. She also used an inhaler for lung disease.
She was discharged from the home 18 days later, and according to her daughter, “she was withdrawn, slumped in a wheelchair with her head down, chewing on her hand, her speech garbled.” The woman died a few weeks later. An investigation revealed that the women had been prescribed numerous medications, including antipsychotics which were given to her without her family’s knowledge.
Antipsychotic drugs should only be prescribed to people with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. The labeling on these products specifically carries a warning by the FDA stating they are not made for elderly people or those who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia. If an elderly member of your family has been given these drugs by nursing home staff, contact an experienced New Braunfels personal injury attorney to find out what legal recourse you may have.