How nursing homes use medication to abuse, neglect patients

On Behalf of | Sep 30, 2021 | Nursing Home Injuries |

If your loved one lives in a nursing home, you should be aware of the signs of neglect or abuse. While you might think this is limited to red flags like bedsores, bruises and rapid deterioration in personal hygiene, there are other ways nursing homes mistreat patients.

Overmedication is one tactic that dangerous facilities use to abuse patients.

How medicine can harm patients

Nursing home residents often suffer from numerous maladies, from heart conditions and arthritis to dementia. As such, many people are on multiple medications. When facilities properly prescribe, administer and monitor medications, they can be crucial to keeping a person as healthy as possible.

However, some facilities misuse medication to control patients, conceal management issues, and improve performance measures.

For instance, a recent New York Times article reports that there has been a troubling increase in schizophrenia diagnoses in U.S. nursing homes. These diagnoses allow parties to prescribe powerful anti-psychotic medication, which can serve as chemical restraints.

Drugs like Haldol and those used to treat other mental conditions can make patients easier to control and reduce aggressive behaviors. When misused, these drugs can make someone drowsy, dizzy and unable to speak or stand. 

Preventing medication abuse

One of the most effective ways to protect your loved one from being chemically restrained in their nursing home is to have someone watching out for them. This person should be someone the patient trusts and can make decisions in the patient’s best interests.

Thus, instead of relying on the patient advocates in a facility who may be more interested in protecting their employer’s reputation, your loved one can appoint a health care agent. This person will have access to medical records, giving them insight into diagnoses, ailments and medications.

It can also be wise to seek a second opinion in light of suspicious diagnoses like schizophrenia, which doctors typically diagnosis before a person turns 40. 

Calling out bad behaviors

If you suspect someone is engaging in abusive practices like overmedicating nursing home patients, filing a complaint right away is crucial. And if reckless medication practices have already harmed your loved one, taking legal action can be a critical step to hold bad actors responsible.