Families place an incredible amount of trust in those who take care of their elderly relatives. In many cases, nursing homes are the best choice for certain people to be able to receive the constant care that they need. Despite their legal and ethical requirement to keep their elderly patients safe and with a high quality of life, the American Association of Retired People reports that many of the nation’s nursing homes are using antipsychotics as a means of controlling patients. A personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas knows that this illegal practice often results in disaster for patients and their families.
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What are antipsychotics?
The National Institute of Mental Health states that antipsychotics are used in the treatment of bipolar disorders and schizophrenia. The drugs work by blocking the interaction of specific compounds within the brain. They can help reduce serious symptoms associated with schizophrenia, including delusions, hallucinations, and breaks with reality. However, they do have many side effects. These include the following:
- Blurred vision
- Rapid heartbeat
- Skin rashes
In younger patients, these side effects may be minimal or easily dealt with. A personal Injury lawyer in Las Vegas knows that in the elderly, they can be fatal.
The Food and Drug Administration has been very clear on the proper use of antipsychotics. In response to the ongoing use of these drugs to restrain and subdue patients, the government entity issued a “black box” warning, its strongest available Public Health Advisory. The warning states that the use of these drugs on elderly dementia patients is not recommended due to the marked increase in death rates among the group. This is true for all types of antipsychotics. The warning reinforced their original statements that these medications are not approved by the FDA for treatment of behavioral disorders in elderly patients with dementia.
Warnings continually unheeded
According to the AARP, antipsychotic medication is used to sedate 20 percent of nursing home patients in the U.S. The Office of the Inspector General of Health and Human Services, which oversees Medicare, reports that 14 percent of elderly residents of nursing homes had Medicare insurance claims involving antipsychotics. Only 27 percent of the claims were connected to treatment for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. When nursing home workers administer antipsychotics improperly and against the recommendation of the FDA, patients are twice as likely to die or get pneumonia and three times as likely to have a stroke.
A personal injury lawyer in Las Vegas understands that many families feel helpless in these situations, but they are not powerless. Those who have lost a loved one due to the illegal administration of drugs should contact an attorney immediately for assistance.