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.

PA Nursing Home Fines Jump in 2017

The Pennsylvania Department of Health is cracking down on nursing home safety, as evidenced by a jump in fines, reported Lancaster Online. State records show 108 penalties and $774,750 in fines for roughly the first half of 2017, as compared to 18 penalties and $65,750 in fines for all of 2014. The increased oversight is part of a philosophical shift that the department announced in October 2016.

The department has been taking anonymous complaints and visiting nursing homes more frequently. Offenses range from technical violations for water that’s too hot to more serious penalties where inadequate care resulted in harm to residents, and sometimes death.

If you suspect an elderly loved one in a nursing home may be the victim of neglect, talk to an experienced elder injury attorney. Contact us online or call 215-751-0100 so we can talk about your legal options.

Lawyers Working Polling Places

November 4, 2008 was an historic day in America. No matter what your political affiliation, we can all be inspired by the record turnout and the astounding participation in the Democratic process.

The lawyers at Shaffer & Gaier were proud to be poll watchers to ensure that every person, Democrat, Republican or Independent had a clear path to the voting place. All of our attorneys, watched the polling places to ensure our citizens’ rights were not infringed upon and they could exercise their right to vote.

Nursing Home Violations Widespread

Many people argue over whether there is too much government regulation concerning our everyday lives. However, we certainly could agree that when it comes to caring for our loved ones, the laws in the book should at least be followed.

In a report released just last week, Federal investigators have found that more than 90% of nursing homes were cited for violations of Federal health and safety standards last year. Most troubling, the for-profit nursing homes were more likely to have problems than any other types of nursing homes Federal investigators found. These problems included infected bed sores, medication mix-up, poor nutrition and abuse and neglect of patients. Inspectors received over 37,000 complaints about the conditions in nursing homes last year and they substantiated almost 40% of them. About 20% of the complaints verified by Federal and State authorities involved nursing home abuse or neglect of patients.

It’s often said that the greatness of a country is determined how it cares for people who can’t care for themselves. Certainly, the elderly fall within this category and no one can contest that these people deserve the best care possible. It is clear from this study that many elderly are not receiving the best care available and that they deserve.

Our firm has handled many nursing home cases throughout the years. We employ a full time nurse/paralegal to review these type of cases. She has over a decade of experience in the nursing field reviewing and evaluating our cases. Please contact us at Shaffer & Gaier, LLC if one of your loved ones has not received appropriate care at a nursing home.

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