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Antipsychotic Drugs Overused in Nation’s Nursing Homes

Antipsychotic Drugs Overused in Nation’s Nursing Homes

In recent years, the number of nursing home residents who are being overmedicated on antipsychotics has declined. But according to the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, still more than 25 percent of all these residents are being dosed up with antipsychotic medication. What this means is that there are more people taking antipsychotics than who actually need them. Antipsychotics are supposed to be prescribed for psychosis, not for dementia or insomnia.

But needless, even harmful prescriptions are made all the same, and they are made all the more dangerous when they are mixing with the many other prescription drugs that nursing home residents take.

Worse still, nursing home staff have been known to use antipsychotics as a tranquilizer to deal with a difficult patient who is fighting back. Residents with dementia are especially prone to these actions, and people with dementia are most at risk of dying from antipsychotics.

Back in 2005, the FDA warned that patients with dementia could have as much as a 60 to 70 percent increased risk of death if they used antipsychotic medication. Even for residents who do not have dementia, the Administration of Aging has said that antipsychotics bring on the risk of lethargy, dangerous falls, and stroke.

The good news is that North Carolina is one of the best states when it comes to this. The US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services launched a campaign to bring down the overuse of antipsychotics, aiming for a 15 percent drop in use.

The average decrease reached only a 9 percent drop, however. But in North Carolina, antipsychotic drug use dropped by 23 percent. This is due in large part to nursing home staff being trained better, being taught other ways to handle difficult patients, such as a massage, familiar music, or exercise.

This is encouraging progress, but it is still progress that must continue. If you or a loved one has suffered from a bad prescription or from nursing home abuse, then do not hesitate to contact the Whitley Law Firm. Our Raleigh personal injury lawyers are ready to fiercely defend your rights and to pursue justice.