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Antipsychotic misuse linked to nursing home abuse and neglect

Working with people who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer's disease has its challenges. However, these individuals still deserve to be treated with care and respect. Kentucky residents may be concerned to hear that some nursing home staff fail to properly care for those with dementia or Alzheimer's disease and, instead, simply sedate these residents with antipsychotic drugs, a practice that can be very dangerous.

According to a June 15 study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, per a government initiative, the use of antipsychotic drugs administered to long-term residents in nursing homes has gone down 33 percent since 2012. However, some in the mental health groups are still concerned with the fact that around 270,000 residents of nursing homes are administered antipsychotics as a means to manage the actions of those suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's. These groups claim that more protection against the unnecessary use of antipsychotic drugs is needed.

Per federal law, these drugs cannot be used simply to make it easier for nursing home staff to do their jobs. Some dementia patients may be more likely to die if they are administered antipsychotics. In fact, when it comes to antipsychotics, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a "black box" warning that they should not be used in cases of dementia. According to one nonprofit organization, using antipsychotics as a chemical restraint on the elderly constitutes nursing home abuse and neglect.

Antipsychotics can have dangerous side effects for the elderly. This includes an increase in the chance the recipient of the medication would fall and break a bone, or experience heart failure, immobility and anxiety, among other side effects. These drugs can even result in fatalities. In fact, the FDA reported in November 2004, that annually 15,000 nursing home residents given atypical antipsychotics lost their lives.

As this shows, the misuse of antipsychotics in nursing homes can have significant negative effects on the health of those given them. Those with loved ones who have died in a nursing home after being given an antipsychotic may want to explore their legal options, including the possibility of filing a lawsuit if necessary.

Source: Digital Journal, "Greater Protections Needed for the Elderly Against Psychotropic Drug and Electroshock Use," June 21, 2017

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