A recent study by the Office of the Inspector General of the United States indicates that residents of some nursing homes may be regularly given atypical antipsychotic drugs as a means of chemical restraint, sometimes to the detriment of their health, including death.
Antipsychotic drugs prescribed to as many as one in seven patients with dementia at nursing homes increase the risk of death and are not approved for such uses, a government audit has found.
Drugs such as Risperdal, Zyprexa, Seroquel, Abilify and Geodon are “potentially lethal” to many of the patients getting them and in many cases, completely unnecessary and unneeded.
The 10News I-Team has learned many local skilled nursing facilities are using powerful drugs to control elderly patients’ behavior.Keith Blair suffered from mild dementia, and it wasn’t until after his death that his daughter, Marian Hollingsworth, realized he’d been given antipsychotic drugs.
“CANHR is trying to end the misuse of psychoactive drugs to control seniors. The group created a website which allows anyone to see how many patients are receiving psychoactive drugs at any skilled nursing facility in California. Experts say while using these drugs is sometimes justified, there are dangers in their misuse.”When you see nursing homes that are above 90 percent of their residents are receiving a psychotropic drug, you’re wondering what the hell is going on there,” said Chicotel.
Pharmaceutical companies view the elderly as a lucrative market. However a panel of experts at the recent Senate Aging Committee forum decided to speak up. Over-medication occurs far too often in those diagnosed with dementia, the panel warned, and as baby boomers age the problem will only worsen. One reason overmedication occurs, per this panel, is family members, caregivers, and nursing home workers often misinterpret patients’ complaints about physical ailments as unruly or aggressive conduct. To manage their behavior, such patients are administered antipsychotics they don’t need.
About five million patients are currently diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia. “Those in this field have a feeling we’re headed in a very fast train toward the end of a cliff,” stated Patricia Grady, PhD, director of the National Institute of Nursing Research. Director of California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform, Patricia McGinnis, demanded nursing homes be held “accountable” for the drugs they administer. “The way anti-psychotic drugs are used in nursing homes is a form of elder abuse,” she told the forum. “Instead of providing individualized care, many homes indiscriminately use these drugs to sedate and subdue residents.”
The Massachusetts attorney general joined that federal lawsuit accusing Johnson & Johnson of paying kickbacks to push the antipsychotic Risperdal and other drugs into nursing homes. AG Martha Coakley didn’t stop there; however, her office is also investigating other companies that market antipsychotics to nursing homes in the state.