October 27, 2009
Frail and vulnerable residents of nursing homes throughout Illinois are being dosed with powerful psychotropic drugs, leading to tremors, dangerous lethargy and a higher risk of harmful falls or even death, a Tribune investigation has found.
Thousands of elderly and disabled people have been affected, many of them drugged without their consent or without a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis that would justify treatment, state and federal inspection reports show.
Lloyd Berkley, 74, was in a nursing home near Peoria for less than a day before staff members held him down and injected him with a large amount of an antipsychotic drug, according to a state citation. A few hours later he fell, suffering a fatal head injury.
One woman was given a psychotropic drug partly because she refused to wear a bra. Nursing home staff administered an antipsychotic medication to an 87-year-old man because he was “easily annoyed.”
In all, the Tribune identified 1,200 violations at Illinois nursing homes involving psychotropic medications since 2001. Those infractions affected 2,900 patients.