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The dangerous overuse of antipsychotics in nursing homes

With your mother in a nursing home and not in your constant care, you may be worried about the treatment she receives. You may have done lots of research before enrolling your parent in the facility to ensure a low risk of all types of abuse and medical neglect. However, these are not the only issues to consider.

Another form of mistreatment is overusing antipsychotics on residents. While such medication may be useful under the right circumstances, they can be dangerous for patients who do not need them.

Side effects of incorrect use

Antipsychotics are only meant for those with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or another type of psychosis. They are not safe for someone who has frail health or suffers from any form of dementia. Unnecessary medication of these drugs can lead to the following:

  •        Anxiety
  •        Changes in personality
  •        Confusion
  •        Worsened memory problems
  •        Death

It is important that you stay informed on the medications and dosage amounts your parent takes and the purpose of each. There should not be any drug administration without your or your parent’s consent.

The roots of the problem

Overuse of antipsychotics happens for many reasons. Sometimes it is due to the convenience of having an easier time caring for, manipulating or abusing someone who is impaired. More common is for pharmaceutical companies to sell unsafe drugs or push for more product use to increase sales. Furthermore, nursing home staff may not have the correct information about or training for antipsychotics use, or they may feel pressured to medicate to make up for understaffing.  

Regardless of the cause, there is no excuse for putting patients in danger. Do not hesitate to ask questions about the drugs your parent takes. If you find out your elderly mother has received antipsychotics without an appropriate medical reason or patient/caregiver consent, speak to a personal injury lawyer with experience in nursing home abuse cases. 

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