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Dementia Care: Are Boston Nursing Homes Providing the Proper Medical Treatment When They Use Antibiotics to Treat Pneumonia?

A study of 323 Boston dementia patients from 22 assisted living facilities is calling into question whether treating residents advanced stage dementia patients who are suffering from pneumonia with antibiotics is the proper course of action. According to the study’s findings, which was published last week in the Archives of Internal Medicine, antibiotics may prolong a dementia patient’s life for about nine months. However, in the meantime, the resident may be experiencing greater pain, anxiety, and depression. Patients who were not treated with antibiotics appeared to experience greater levels of comfort than residents who were given the medication.

Pneumonia is a common illness for patients with advanced dementia because they have swallowing problems, making it easy for food to get caught in their lungs, and their immune system is likely impaired. The researchers are saying that it is important that caregivers discuss medical options with a patient’s family first rather than automatically treating his/her pneumonia with antibiotics..

Unfortunately, many nursing homes don’t consult with a patient’s family members first because they are worried they might get sued for Boston nursing home negligence. To cover their bases, they provide aggressive medical care-an option that might not be the best course of action for every resident.

Boston Nursing Home Negligence
It isn’t enough for a Massachusetts assisted living facility to provide a patient with medical and nursing care. The type of treatment provided must be the the one that’s best one for the patient’s specific needs. It is important that the resident or family members are consulted about medical decisions and informed consent is obtained.

Study questions dementia care, Boston.com, July 13, 2010
When Pneumonia Follows Severe Dementia, New York TImes, July 23, 2010

Related Web Resources:
Alzheimer’s Disease and Other Forms of Dementia, WebMD
Archives of Internal Medicine

If you believe that your love one experienced pain and suffering or suffered health complications because he or she received negligent nursing care or was the victim of Boston nursing home abuse and neglect, please contact Altman & Altman, LLP today.