Nearly 25 percent of the residents in California’s nursing homes are placed on antipsychotic drugs, often used as sort of a chemical leash to control behavior in a trend a watchdog called an epidemic Thursday at a symposium. The drugs can double the risk of death for seniors with dementia and cause side effects ranging from stroke to delirium, according to speakers at an Oxnard conference called “Toxic Medicine.”
Patricia McGinnis, executive director of the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, said nursing homes must be “accountable” for the drugs they administer. “The way anti-psychotic drugs are used in nursing homes is a form of elder abuse,” McGinnis told the forum. “Instead of providing individualized care, many homes indiscriminately use these drugs to sedate and subdue residents.”
The dangers of [psychiatric ] drugs: The drugs are especially hazardous to older people, raising the risk of strokes, pneumonia, confusion, falls, diabetes and hospitalization. “There’s a bunch of problems, not least of which is those drugs can kill you,” said Dr. Mark Kunik at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston who spoke last month at the Gerontological Society of America’s annual meeting in New Orleans. Instead of looking for causes of disruptive behavior among dementia patients, doctors typically prescribe drugs to mask the symptoms, he said, because “It’s the easy thing to do. … That’s true in hospitals, in clinics and in nursing homes.” Federal regulators are cracking down on homes that don’t routinely reassess residents on psychotropic drugs. But use remains widespread.
Federal officials say nearly 2,500 Massachusetts nursing home residents were given powerful antipsychotic drugs last year that were not intended or recommended for their medical condition.
Dementia Patients Still Getting Dangerous Antipsychotic Drugs In Nursing Homes Forbes – November 20, 2013 By Howard Gleckman More than one out of every five…