Nursing home residents at risk of death due to unnecessary use of antipsychotic drugs
Every day, thousands of nursing home residents are given antipsychotic drugs even though they don’t need them. The misuse of the drugs increases the risk of death for older people living in the facilities. In addition, the nursing homes rarely face any repercussions.
Those are some of the conclusions of a new report prepared by health researchers for Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, a Democrat and chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. NPR recently reported on the study.
Key findings of study into antipsychotic drugs at nursing homes
NPR highlighted key findings from the Congressional report:
- Most of the almost 300,000 nursing home residents who are given antipsychotic drugs each week have no psychosis.
- Citations for drug misuse declined between the end of the Obama administration and the first half of the Trump administration.
- The Trump administration rolled back regulations put in place under the Obama administration.
In addition, NPR reports the Trump administration:
- Made it more difficult to sue for nursing home neglect as a result of poor care
- Changed the way fines are assessed, which resulted in a decline in financial penalties
- Proposed making it easier for nursing homes to prescribe antipsychotic medications
Researchers found that fines were extremely low for nursing homes that prescribed unneeded antipsychotic drugs to their residents.
Who needs antipsychotic drugs?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that antipsychotic drugs should be prescribed only to people with serious mental illness. Typically, a doctor might prescribe such medication to someone with schizophrenia, which is a condition that usually afflicts people under 30 rather than those in their 80s (the typical age of nursing home residents).
In addition, an antipsychotic drug can increase the risk of death for an older person, particularly if the individual has dementia. The NPR report states that unnecessary use of the drugs contributes to falls in nursing homes.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a program to reduce unnecessary use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. While inappropriate use of the drugs declined, there was an uptick in schizophrenia diagnoses. The Congressional report suggests that nursing homes may be falsifying diagnoses to justify use of antipsychotic drugs.
Was your loved one harmed in a nursing home?
It’s never easy placing a loved one in a nursing home. After you’ve done your research and decided on a facility, you put your trust in the staff who care for your loved one. If a nursing home gave your loved one unneeded antipsychotic drugs, they have violated the trust you placed in them.
You might ask questions they refuse to answer. They may refuse to address your concerns. If your loved one is harmed or dies because of their negligence, the nursing home may deny any wrongdoing.
That’s why it’s critical to speak with an experienced nursing home negligence attorney as soon as possible. You don’t have to go up against the nursing home alone. Our attorneys can put experience and resources to work for you.
Let us help. We will take immediate action to protect your loved one and send a message to the nursing home that negligent behavior is unacceptable. Contact us today for a free consultation.