It’s become clear that a lot of nursing homes in the United States operate with a razor-thin staff, pushing the limits of what anybody can consider “reasonable” when it comes to having enough people on staff to care for their patients.
Nursing homes often get “creative” about minimizing the amount of work they have to do with a patient. That sometimes includes the use of heavy-duty drugs to subdue dementia patients. According to the State Long-Term Care Ombudsman in Ohio, many of those patients are on antipsychotic medications that are practically useless in terms of treating the disease. They’re taking the drugs solely for the convenience of staff members, who rely on the drugs to make dementia patients sleepy and complaint.
Some nursing homes have discovered that they can feed dementia patients a few pills each day and let them sleep. That’s far easier (and cheaper) than hiring staff members to occupy them and see to it that they are involved in any kind of meaningful activity.
The average Ohio nursing home has 15 percent of its patients on antipsychotics at any given moment. All of those patients are at risk of suffering serious side effects, including death, as a result. In addition, the drugs often have the effect of numbing patients so much that they lose whatever interest they have in daily activities far sooner than they might through the natural progression of their disease.
The current numbers are actually an improvement. In 2012, close to 25 percent of patients were on antipsychotics. Just the same, it’s important for families to understand that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not recommend antipsychotics to treat any form of dementia.
The use of drugs as a form of chemical restraint in nursing homes is not new. It’s abusive and illegal. Clever nursing home managers, however, know that families may mistake a “quiet” patient as content and not realize what is happening to their loved one.
Do you think that a loved one has been the victim of nursing home abuse through chemical restraints? Was a loved one harmed by the side effects of unnecessary antipsychotic drugs? An attorney can help you better understand your rights and options.