Improper Use of Antipsychotics
in Kentucky Nursing Homes
Antipsychotics Can Be Misused
Antipsychotic medications have a necessary and acceptable use to treat people with certain conditions, and this includes people living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities. However, while only about five percent of nursing home residents are actually diagnosed with a condition that antipsychotic drugs are intended to treat, as many as 25% of residents in a given facility are likely to have antipsychotics administered to them.
When antipsychotics are given to sedate residents for the convenience of the staff rather than for any therapeutic medical reason, their use constitutes nursing home abuse and neglect. The nursing home negligence attorneys at the Slechter Law Firm fight the overprescription of antipsychotic medicines and hold nursing home staff and owners accountable for the harm caused by such abuse.
Nursing Home Residents Have a Right to Be Free from Unnecessary Medication
Nursing home residents have a right to be free from medication used to control behavior or for the convenience of staff. There must be a medically necessary reason for any medication documented in the resident’s chart.
If a resident’s behavior is an issue, behavioral interventions are not only better for the resident’s health, they are also more successful.
Antipsychotic drugs are approved for the treatment of certain serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. They are not, however, approved to treat age-related illnesses such as dementia or Alzheimer’s Disease.
In fact, their use can actually increase the risk of serious medical harm to patients with dementia, including infections, heart failure, and death. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) requires antipsychotics to carry a Black Box warning about these effects.
In addition to the serious and even fatal effects mentioned above, the misuse of antipsychotics can lead to falls, loss of independence or identity, respiratory infections, and muscle atrophy from over-sedation.
The fact is that antipsychotics do not provide any therapeutic benefit to people with dementia. Their use is actually a form of nursing home abuse or neglect as improper use of chemical restraint.
Have You Noticed a Change in Your Loved One’s Behavior?
If you have noticed a change in your family member’s behavior, there may be many possible explanations. Signs that a person is receiving antipsychotic medication include confusion, disorientation, seeming “spaced out,” having a flat affect, and loss of energy, appetite, or interest.
If you suspect your loved one is being given antipsychotic drugs, ask to see the resident’s chart. If you see drugs such as Abilify, Risperdal, Zyprexa, Clozaril, Seroquel, Geodon, or Symbyax, find out who ordered them and why. If nursing home staff are reluctant to share the resident’s chart with you or provide you with an explanation, contact a lawyer for help.
Help Is Available to Stop Nursing Home Abuse and Help Residents Heal
If you believe that you or a member of your family has been harmed by the improper or unnecessary administration of antipsychotic drugs in a nursing home, contact the Slechter Law Firm for immediate assistance. From our office in Louisville, we help victims of nursing home abuse in Kentucky, Indiana, and Tennessee. Call us or complete our online form for a free consultation.