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Antipsychotic drug use in Connecticut nursing homes questioned

Posted by Thomas Pettinicchi of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Oct 04, 2012 in Nursing Home Neglect

When a loved one enters a nursing home or assisted living facility, we should be able to expect that he or she will be treated with the dignity and care they deserve. However, these vulnerable people are being subjected to nursing home neglect, abuse and medication errors far too often. In addition to holding a facility or party responsible for any mistreatment towards elderly people, it is important to identify dangerous practices and put a stop to them.

One way that fragile patients in nursing homes are mistreated is when they are given improper medication. For example, in an attempt to control or subdue patients, some nursing home facility workers are giving extremely powerful antipsychotic medications to patients who are simply agitated or confused. This practice of giving medications to people for unapproved purposes is referred to as "off-label" and lawmakers want it to stop. They refer to this type of abuse as chemical restraint.

In Connecticut, advocates for the elderly have formed groups determined to bring attention to this dangerous practice and cut the off-label use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes by 15 percent.

Giving vulnerable people powerful drugs for purposes other than what is intended is very worrisome. Not only does it cost taxpayers money to give a person a drug for off-label conditions, but it puts the patient in danger. Elderly people can become unresponsive when given drugs like Risperidone, and they can suffer a stroke or even a fatality after taking the medication.

Using approved drugs for unapproved purposes is a dangerous and negligent practice. In order to put an end to this type of elderly abuse, coalitions are pushing nursing homes to try alternative methods of calming down an agitated patient or to learn more about a person in order to anticipate and prevent a dangerous situation that may disrupt or upset a patient.

The trusted Waterbury personal injury lawyers at our firm may be able to pursue compensation for the abuse or neglect your loved one suffered. 

Source: The CT Mirror, "Blumenthal, advocates for elderly target 'chemical restraint' abuse at care facilities," Grace Merritt, Oct. 2, 2012