Overmedication of Nursing Home Residents: What You Need to Know
As many as 1.4 million American seniors are residents of nursing homes, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Although the vast majority assisted living facilities are committed to providing optimal care for their patients, others subject their residents to abuse and neglect. Many may be surprised to learn that 30 percent of all nursing homes are the site of some form of resident abuse. Nursing home abuse can include, but is not limited to, malnutrition, physical abuse, sexual abuse, psychological distress, neglect and exploitation. One of the most prevalent forms of nursing home abuse that occurs is overmedication of residents.
Overmedication is the overuse or misuse of medication, whether over-the-counter or prescription. A nursing home employee may overmedicate the patient as a means of making the patient easier to control. According to the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), overmedication may stem from inadequate training of nursing home staff or chronic understaffing, as well as the pharmaceutical companies' relentless push to drive the sales of their products.
Antipsychotics and sedatives are among the most overused and misused medications, as their effects may relax the patient or make them more likely to comply with staff members. According to the University of California, as many as one in five patients are given antipsychotics whose use is unnecessary and may pose a danger to older adults.
Overmedication can cause behavioral changes such as becoming confused or lethargic, as well as physical ailments, and emotional conditions. According to the Nursing Home Abuse Guide, if the resident is overmedicated for an extended period of time, there is a risk the medication can build up in their system and can contribute to acute conditions such as a heart attack or stroke or may lead to a chronic illness such as cancer. Chronic overmedication can also contribute to a resident's dependency on the drug and may lead to addiction.
If a loved one has suffered overmedication or another form of nursing home abuse, you may be entitled to compensation. Seeking the guidance of an experienced New York nursing home abuse attorney may be crucial in protecting you or your loved one's rights. Contact Levine & Slavit, PLLC's New York City or Long Island office at (888) LAW-8088 for a free case review.