There are many ways a nursing home resident can be overmedicated. They can be given the wrong dosage of a drug they have been prescribed. They can also be given a drug without consent or they can simply be given the wrong medication.
All of these types of errors continue to be an issue in many nursing homes. Even more prominent is the number of nursing home patients being given antipsychotic drugs even though they do not need them. Many nursing home caregivers use these drugs to control patient behavior so that residents require less care and attention.
The Federal Drug Administration (FDA) has warned that use of antipsychotic drugs on dementia patients greatly increases the likelihood they will die from cardiovascular problems or infection. These drugs are also linked to urinary and blood pressure problems.
In 2012, the Boston Globe researched the issue and found that one fifth of U.S. nursing homes used anti-psychotics for at least 25% of residents and that these patients did not have illnesses appropriate for the medication. Another study in 2010, performed by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), found that more than 17% of nursing home residents throughout the United States are daily given more than the required amount of antipsychotic medications. In some states, the abuse was extensive. In Florida, for example, 71% of nursing home residents were being overdosed, according to the CMS.
In November 2013, the Justice Department announced Johnson & Johnson had agreed to pay more than $2.2 billion to resolve criminal and civil charges involving the misuse of antipsychotic drugs on the elderly. The company was alleged to have engaged in off-label marketing of Risperdal for nursing home residents who had dementia but no diagnosis of psychosis. Johnson & Johnson paid kickbacks to physicians and pharmacists who prescribed the drug. Other drug companies, Eli Lilly and AstraZeneca, were involved in similar activity and settled similar suits with the federal government.
A CMS decision to require consultant pharmacists to be independent (actually required by the Nursing Reform Act of 1987) has also not materialized, but CMS has warned it may step in if there is not marked improvement. As of June 2013, CMS reports that one in five nursing home residents nationwide continue to be given antipsychotic drugs.
If your loved one has been the victim of any form of medication abuse, an experienced Ohio nursing home abuse attorney can help get justice for you and your loved one.
This article was written by Attorney James W. Slater of the Akron, Ohio law firm of Slater & Zurz LLP.
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