Do you believe your loved one is being overmedicated in a nursing home? Unfortunately, this is not uncommon, and it can have devastating results. In many situations, individuals are given drugs they do not have a diagnosis for as a way to “keep them calm” or even to make them so docile that they cannot talk.
If you believe this is occurring in your situation – with you or your loved one- you need a dedicated, experienced attorney to help you navigate your legal rights. Contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC for immediate help if you believe this is occurring. We will work with you to get immediate guidance and legal support to ensure your loved one is not at risk.
Are People Being Overmedicated in Nursing Homes?
Most people would like to think that a nursing home is a safe place, an area for your loved one to be given the extra support they need while they enjoy life. That is not what occurs in some situations.
One study reported by Human Rights Watch found that 179,000 people in nursing facilities are given antipsychotic drugs without a diagnosis. That means that a doctor has not diagnosed them with a psychotic condition that would warrant the use of these drugs to control symptoms. This can be viewed as a form of abuse, such as:
- The patient does not provide insight into whether they want to take these drugs.
- Patients do not get free and informed consent about the medications they are being taken.
- A person is threatened with noncompliance and is forced to leave the facility if they do not take the medications.
- People have no idea what the side effects or potential negative outcomes of these drugs can be.
- Often, they do not know what drugs they are being given, their benefits, or even their purpose.
Many people simply take the medications given to them without knowing what they are or why they are taking them. That is disrobing because it means people are not making educated medical decisions as they are given the legal right to do so.
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Why Are Nursing Homes Overmedicating People?
Not every person who receives medication is being overmedicated. Many nursing homes have taken steps to minimize their use of these drugs, and that may be a good thing. However, there is still a lot of abuse occurring, and that means you have the legal right to take action.
Some nursing homes, nurses, or other patient care providers may prefer to provide patients with medications because it may make the resident less problematic, troublesome, or simply easier to handle. It is not lawful for a person to be given medications in this manner. Yet, many people within a nursing home do not know they have the right to refuse medication or that they need to take action if they feel they are being abused.
If your loved one is taking:
- Sedatives of any type
- Other unknown medications
Take the time to immediately contact their doctor, one that is not affiliated with the nursing home, to get information on what is occurring and why.
Signs of Overmedication
You may not be sure what is occurring, but you may notice signs that your loved one is different or may not be the way they always are. You may also be told that their health is changing or that they are combative. Take a look for some of the signs that a person may be overmedicated, such as:
- The person remains calm but often more withdrawn and less engaging.
- They may not be waking up easily or may seem to be tired all of the time.
- A change in their mental cognitive function has occurred that is not in line with any medical diagnosis they have.
- They have had unexplained medical issues that came out of nowhere, such as reactions to medications.
- Your loved one is suddenly suffering from conditions like liver or kidney disease that they did not have before.
If you suspect there is any type or level of risk to your loved one, act on it. Make the decision to ask questions and gather insight. At the same time, remember that not all nursing homes are honest. They may not tell you what medications they are giving your loved one, or they may not provide you with accurate information about their symptoms. Do not assume that you can trust them.
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What to Do If You Believe Your Loved One May Be Overmedicated
There are some situations where too much of a necessary medication is being administered. Other times, a person is being given a medication that is not necessary or is being used for symptoms or conditions a person does not have. What do you do in this situation?
- Ask questions of your loved one. Find out if they know what medications they are taking and why.
- Ask to see medical records of medications being administered. Speak to the onsite doctor or nurse providing those medications to inquire about what they are being given and why.
- Ask for an offsite doctor to pay a visit to the loved one for an examination or to talk to the patient. This is even more helpful when they are a doctor that is familiar with your loved one.
- Stop in without expectation to check on your loved one at a time when you normally would not.
- Make it clear that you do not want your loved one getting any medication that they should not or do not need. Be sure you have a power of attorney in place.
Turn to an attorney, as well. Nursing home abuse happens when no one is there. When you visit, your loved one may not be receiving poor care or not being given the time and attention they need. When you leave, things change. That is when it is most important to be empowered by the help of an attorney, who can file a claim against the nursing home on your behalf.
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Let us help you now. Contact Gatti, Keltner, Bienvenu & Montesi PLC for more information and guidance. Let us provide a free consultation if you suspect overmedicating in a nursing home is occurring.