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Massachusetts Nursing Home Negligence?: Almost 2,500 Assisted Living Facility Residents Given Antipsychotic Drugs Without Just Cause in 2009

According to the Boston Globe, close to 2,500 Massachusetts nursing home patients were given antipsychotic drugs last year even though the medication isn’t recommended for treating their illness. Data gathered by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services shows that 28% of the state’s nursing home residents were given the powerful medications and that 22% of these patients-that’s 2,483 people-had not been diagnosed with a medical condition that warranted this type of treatment.

The fact that so many patients were given antipsychotics without just cause is an issue of concern-especially because so many residents suffer from dementia. Dementia patients increase their fatality risk when they take antipsychotic meds, which are actually for treating patients with serious mental illnesses. Confusion and weight gain are two of the other unpleasant side effects that antipsychotic meds can have on a someone with dementia.

Other Possible Side Effects When Taking Psychotropics:

• Dizziness • Drowsiness • Increased risk of cardiac failure • Skin rashes • Sun sensitivity • Muscle spasms • Rigidity • Menstrual problems
With such potentially serious side effects, choosing to administer this kind of powerful drug to a patient is a decision that cannot be made for the wrong reasons. Unfortunately, some nursing homes use psychotropics to sedate patients who exhibit “bothersome behavior” or they fail to follow up after prescribing the drugs to determine whether a resident’s dosage should be reduced or eliminated. Inadequate training, low staffing, and nursing home negligence are some reasons why patients who don’t need to psychotropic drugs are forced to take them.

Overmedication, prescribing the wrong drug, or sedating a patient solely for the convenience of the nursing staff can be grounds for a Boston, Massachusetts nursing home negligence lawsuit.

Nursing home drug use puts many at risk, Boston.com, March 8, 2010
Sane Elderly Given Antipsychotic Drugs at Mass. Nursing Homes, Fox News/AP, March 8, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Study Confirms Antipsychotics Pose Heart Risk, Wall Street Journal, January 15, 2009
Nursing Homes, Mass.gov
To determine whether you have grounds for a case, contact our Boston nursing home neglect and abuse law firm.