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Report: Antipsychotic drugs are being misused in nursing homes

Antipsychotic drugs, when prescribed and taken properly, can help people who suffer from a number of conditions, including Huntington's Disease, schizophrenia and Tourette's. However, for older people who also suffer from dementia, they can be fatal. In fact, they can double their chances of death.

According to a recently-released report by the group Human Rights Watch (HRW), nursing home workers sometimes use antipsychotic drugs on residents who don't need them for any physical ailment. Staff members may see these drugs as a convenient way to control and restrain elderly people. Sometimes, it's done to discipline them.

Of course, administering such powerful and potentially harmful medication to residents for anything other than its intended purpose, and particularly to control or punish them, is illegal. The author of the report said, however, "The problem is the government is failing to enforce the law and the industry is getting away with it."

The government tracks the percentage of nursing home residents in each facility taking antipsychotic drugs. A high percentage doesn't necessarily mean that the drugs are being abused. Some facilities have more residents than others with conditions that warrant them. However, according to HRW, every week, U.S. nursing facilities administer these drugs to an average of 179,000 people who haven't been diagnosed with medical conditions they are supposed to treat.

Often, according to the report, residents and family members have no idea that these drugs are being administered. One woman said that she discovered that her 93-year-old mother was being given antipsychotic drugs when she started having hallucinations.

If you suspect or learn that a loved one has been given any medications without your knowledge and has suffered harm as a result, you can and should determine what your legal options are. An experienced West Virginia nursing home abuse attorney can help you.

Source: KTVU Fox, "Report: Nursing home patients over-medicated across U.S.," Candice Nguyen, accessed March 09, 2018

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