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Is the nursing home prescribing antipsychotics to your loved one?

Posted On February 03, 2015

When putting a loved one into a Chicago nursing home facility, family members and friends may feel justly concerned about the skills and integrity of facility caregivers. While a patient may enter a nursing home using little to no medication, some friends and relatives are finding that their loved ones are started on new medications during their stay without their prior knowledge or consent. One common category for illegal nursing home drugging is antipsychotics. Cases of illegal antipsychotic drug administration often lead to patient harm.

According to the basic guidelines for medication safety released by the Center for Disease Control, at least 40 percent of all adverse drug events in non-hospital settings are believed to be preventable. An experienced Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer will be all too familiar with these kinds of statistics for wrongfully administered medications causing serious harm.

What are antipsychotic drugs?

Antipsychotics are not designed to cure illnesses, but to alter or improve nerve reactions and psychotic behavior. Varying doses are given to change the way nerve cells communicate, thus affecting a patient’s behavior. These drugs are often implemented in the treatment of schizophrenia and other forms of psychosis. Common psychotic behaviors include:

  • Hallucinations
  • Physical aggression
  • Frequent agitation

When a patient displays continuous symptoms of psychotic behavior, they should be evaluated by a medical professional who can prescribe the right type of drug. Most doctors are aware that antipsychotic drugs can be especially risky for elderly patients who show early signs of dementia. Patients who take antipsychotics while displaying the beginnings of dementia are at an increased risk for heart attack, stroke, and death.

Illegal antipsychotic drug administration

While antipsychotic drugs are effective in some users, others should not be taking them for the risk they may pose to preexisting health conditions. When nursing home workers give patients antipsychotics without the consent of loved ones who have precedence over the individual, activities begin to fall into the category of nursing home abuse. The American Association of Retired Persons recently did a report on the harmful effects of antipsychotic drugs on one elderly woman. The victim’s family says that their mother was mentally altered by the antipsychotics administered, and that the meds were given without informed consent.

Sadly, this case is not unique. One nursing and sociology professor at San Francisco’s University of California, Charlene Harrington, estimates that one in five nursing home patients are receiving unnecessary antipsychotics. Not only can these drugs be used to enforce control over patients, but are potential harmful to elderly individuals who display early warning signs of dementia. Friends or family members of nursing home patients who believe their loved ones have suffered injury or death due to abuse in nursing homes should contact a Chicago nursing home abuse lawyer to seek justice.

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