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Boston Personal Injury?: Use of Psychotropic Drugs Can Prove Fatal for Some Elderly Patients

According to information on nearly 11,000 elderly patients, those who are treated with antidepressants, conventional antipsychotic drugs, and benzodiazepines are at greater risk of adverse outcomes and death than if they were treated with atypical antipsychotic drugs. This is disturbing news, considering that nearly two thirds of dementia patients in assisted living facilities are given psychotropic drugs. The Boston Globe reports that in Massachusetts alone, almost 2,500 nursing home patients were given strong antipsychotic drugs that were not recommended or meant for their health issues. If you think that loved one may have gotten sick from taking a medication, you should speak with a Boston injury lawyer right away.

The study, which can be found in CMAJ, notes that this ‘exploratory” examination shows growing evidence that conventional antipsychotics aren’t any safer than atypical antipsychotics when it comes to treating older adults. Dr. Krista F. Huybrechts, PhD of Harvard Medical school and Brigham and Women’s Hospital and her colleagues said they found that:

• Treatment with conventional antipsychotics appears to up the risk of an elderly patient developing a femur fracture by 61%.
• These drug increases the risk of fatality by 47%.
• Benzodiazepines was linked a 54% greater risk of heart failure.
• Antidepressants appeared to increase femur fracture risk by 20% and the risk of death by 30%.

Huybrechts and her teammates also said that there is a likelihood that other classes of psychotropic drugs carry similar risks.

In the last five years, federal regulators have put out nationwide alerts two times about the sometimes deadly effects antipsychotics can have on dementia patients alone. According to Massachusetts Senior Care Association senior vice president Scott Plumb, the state consistently ranks high among states with assisted living facilities that have the heaviest psychotropic drug users. Sometimes, the drugs are used just to control a patient’s behavior.

Massachusetts Dangerous Drug
If a drug has been proven dangerous for a particular group of persons, it is important that the drug manufacturer give notification of any possible side effects and include appropriate warnings. Failure to do so can be grounds for a Boston dangerous drug lawsuit.

Massachusetts Medical Malpractice
Doctors are supposed to warn patients of possible risks associated with taking a medication and ensure that they don’t prescribe a medication that can cause serious health complications. When failure to provide these duties of care result in injuries or death, the patient may be able to recover Boston medical malpractice recovery.

Massachusetts Nursing Home Negligence
Assisted living facilities have a responsibility to make sure that any drugs they prescribe will help and not hurt a patient. They also shouldn’t be giving residents medications for the purpose of making their own jobs easier. This type of conduct is Boston nursing home negligence.

Some Psychotropics Risky in Older Patients, MedPage, March 28, 2011
Nursing home drug use puts many at risk, Boston.com, March 8, 2010

Related Web Resources:
US Food and Drug Administration

Overmedication in nursing homes, Aging Care

More Blog Posts:
Dementia Care: Are Boston Nursing Homes Providing the Proper Medical Treatment When They Use Antibiotics to Treat Pneumonia?, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, July 23, 2010
Massachusetts Nursing Home Negligence?: Almost 2,500 Assisted Living Facility Residents Given Antipsychotic Drugs Without Just Cause in 2009, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, March 31,, 2010