Nursing home residents require many different kinds of care. For example, bedridden residents need to be regularly moved by nursing home staff to prevent pressure ulcers. Likewise, patients often need a variety of prescription medications administered.
However, just because a nursing home resident suffers from an illness does not give nursing home staff the right to overmedicate that patient, or to be negligent about the administration of prescription drugs.
Nursing homes sometimes turn to illegal use of chemical restraints
In order to make patients more compliant with daily routines, some nursing homes rely on powerful antipsychotic drugs that overmedicate the patients. This is commonly known as using “chemical restraints,” and it may be a risk particularly for nursing home residents who suffer from dementia. If your loved one in a nursing home sleeps all day and night and appears to be in a stupor while awake, overmedication may be an issue.
The problem is widespread enough that this type of overmedication has been prohibited at the federal level. According to Human Rights Watch, overuse of antipsychotic drugs can double the risk of death for patients with dementia. In fact, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) makes pharmaceutical companies label these drugs with “black box” warnings detailing the dangers to dementia patients. This is the strongest level of warning against the use of antipsychotic medications, as the FDA has declared antipsychotic drugs to be ineffective and unsafe for treating dementia.
Is your loved one being chemically restrained for staff convenience?
Vulnerable nursing home residents need strong allies in the community to prevent nursing home abuse. If you have a loved one or friend in a nursing home due to dementia, try to pay close attention to their state of mind when you visit. If they appear constantly overmedicated, or if you notice inexplicable injuries such bruises, cuts or broken bones, you may need to take legal action on their behalf against the nursing home facility.