Families trust nursing homes to provide excellent care for their disabled loved ones. When they discover that a beloved relative has actually been treated negligently or poorly in a skilled nursing care setting, they are understandably distraught. Nursing home abuse often isn’t obvious. One significant problem that has developed in some of these settings is the use of antipsychotic drugs to keep the patients calm. Attorneys with an organization such as Morelli Law Firm know that those drugs can have catastrophic effects.
When elderly individuals suffering from dementia are given antipsychotic drugs, they can develop serious and even fatal side effects. Doctors avoid prescribing these medications to dementia patients if possible, but some nursing home staff members have been known to give the drugs to agitated and combative residents in an effort to minimize their disease symptoms. The medicine has sedative properties, so it’s effective for this use and for helping the patients sleep better, but it also can be dangerous.
Providing antipsychotic medicine to nursing home residents without a prescription is considered chemical restraint because it effectively keeps them sitting still, even though they are not wearing physical restraints. Family members may have been dealing with a loved one who couldn’t remember them, but now they see that their loved one has become almost like a zombie. The person may be obviously drowsy and significantly more confused than usual.
Side effects of antipsychotic medications, when given to dementia patients, can go beyond sleepiness and confusion. Elderly individuals with dementia are at significantly greater risk of a fatal heart attack and sudden heart failure when taking these drugs.
A Better Solution
Nursing home staff members often are overworked and inadequately trained, in addition to being paid relatively little for the hard work they do. They may finally give medication to a resident out of frustration and feelings of being overwhelmed. Staff members should instead be thoroughly trained about how to compassionately supervise residents who become agitated, delusional and upset. Certain psychological strategies can help a great deal. Family members who believe their loved one has been given antipsychotic drugs in a nursing home may contact a lawyer such as Benedict Morelli for a consultation.