Overmedication in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home residents in the U.S. are overmedicated with powerful antipsychotic drugs that may not even be approved for their conditions, the Reading Eagle recently reported. While the use of antipsychotic drugs is down significantly in recent years, advocacy groups have still been calling for tougher measures against improper use, and those appeals were reinforced last month by a report released by the international human rights nonprofit Human Rights Watch detailing the problem.

Antipsychotic drugs are approved to treat serious mental illnesses such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, according to the article. In nursing homes, these powerful prescriptions often are used to sedate residents with dementia, even though the drugs are not approved for that use. The article reports that elderly dementia patients treated with these drugs face a higher risk of death and suffer other consequences.

“Antipsychotic drugs alter consciousness and can adversely affect an individual’s ability to interact with others, reported the article. “They can also make it easier for understaffed facilities, with direct care workers inadequately trained in dementia care, to manage the people who live there.” The article relayed the story of a California woman with an 88-year-old mother who suffers from dementia. In the article, the woman claimed that “her mother, during stays at three different nursing homes in recent years, was sometimes left neglected for hours at a time in her wheelchair after being given antipsychotics.”

Do you have a loved one who you believe may have been the subject of nursing home neglect, or who suffered ill effects from overmedication? To discuss your legal options, contact us online or call us at  215-751-0100.

Elder Abuse Act Passed

The Elder Abuse Prevention and Prosecution Act of 2017 was signed by President Donald Trump in October after passage by voice vote in the House and Senate.

The Act addressed goals championed by the American Bar Association (ABA) and its Commission on Law and Aging, whose research showed alarming trends in elder abuse in the form of financial exploitation; emotional, psychological, emotional or physical abuse; and neglect. Commission research also showed that just one in 14 cases of abuse is reported to authorities.

The new legislation provides for:

  • The designation of at least one U.S. attorney in every federal judicial district to prosecute elder abuse cases
  • Training on the investigation and prosecution of such cases
  • Appointment of an elder justice coordinator in the Department of Justice (DOJ) and the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection
  • Data collection and coordination
  • Enhanced criminal penalties for telemarketing or email marketing fraud
  • Provide for victim assistance by the DOJ

While all of the above involve for criminal prosecution, certain instances of elder abuse may provide an opportunity to secure damages in a civil lawsuit. To schedule a free, private consultation with an experienced Pennsylvania elder abuse attorney, call 215-751-0100 or e-mail us anytime.

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