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Boston Globe Reports that Many US Nursing Homes are Wrongly Prescribing Antipsychotic Medications to Residents

According to a Boston Globe investigation, in 2010 there were about 185,000 US nursing home patients that took antipsychotic meds even though federal regulators recommended otherwise. Many times, the powerful drugs were prescribed to counter combative behavior and agitation from residents.

Antipsychotics, which are used to treat severe mental illnesses, can leave patients in a stupor and there can be potentially fatal side effects. Yet per federal data examined by the Globe, more than one out of every five assisted living facilities gives antipsychotics to a significant number of their residents. This problem is especially prevalent at Massachusetts nursing homes where that year 28% of assisted living facilities prescribed antipsychotic medications to patients who weren’t suffering from illnesses that required its use compared that to 21% of US nursing homes.

Many of the patients who are given antipsychotics have dementia. Yet according to the US Federal Drug Administration and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services these meds are not appropriate for most of these patients. Side effects can include abnormal heart rhythm, dizziness, lowered blood pressure, urinary problems, and vision problems, which can have devastating consequences for someone who is also elderly and/or very sick.

Nursing homes, an in attempt to defending their decision to use antipsychotics, have pointed to the need to give aggressive or violent residents something to calm them down and regulate their behavior. There are also others who believe that existing federal regulations on antipsychotic use may be dated seeing as they are about two decades old.

Our Boston nursing home neglect and abuse lawyers represent patients who did not receive the proper nursing and medical care while receiving treatment at an assisted living facility. The correct administration of medication to a patient is extremely important. Giving him/her the wrong dose or wrong medicine, forgetting to administer a med, or prescribing a drug unnecessarily can have serious health repercussions. It is also not appropriate to prescribe a drug merely to make the nursing home’s job easier by drugging a patient or using medication as a chemical restraint.

If you believe your loved one was the victim of Massachusetts nursing home negligence, contact our Boston injury lawyers today.

Nursing home residents received inappropriate drugs, BostonGlobe.com, April 29, 2012
Report: Anti-psychotics wrongly prescribed in nursing homes, USA Today, April 29, 2012

Cause for alarm: Antipsychotic drugs for nursing home patients, CNN, May 31, 2011
Differential risk of death in older residents in nursing homes prescribed specific antipsychotic drugs: population based cohort study, BMJ, February 23, 2012


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Fighting Massachusetts Nursing Home Negligence: Patient Advocates Want the State to Only Allow Properly Trained Facilities to Provide Care for Dementia and Alzheimer’s Patients, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, February 11, 2011
Proactively Choosing the Right Assisted Living Facility for Your Loved One Can Decrease The Chances of Boston Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect, Boston Injury Lawyer Blog, November 28, 2011