Nursing homes are responsible for providing patients with necessary medical care. One of the largest aspects of ensuring patients receive this care is the proper administration of medication. However, many nursing homes are going against medical authorities and continually dosing patients with unnecessary drugs in order to make them easier to handle.
According to AARP, nursing homes are continually giving patients antipsychotics to treat their dementia and Alzheimer’s symptoms of aggression and anxiety. These drugs are currently only approved by the U.S Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Despite the relatively low number of elderly patient being treated for these conditions, Medicare billings indicate that as many as 20 percent of nursing home patients are receiving these drugs. This is in direct opposition to the recommendations of the FDA, which has issued a black box warning indicating that antipsychotics should not be used for dementia or Alzheimer’s patients, as it may increase their risk of developing serious infections, heart failure and death.
NPR reports that many nursing homes are administering these medications without the informed consent of the patients or their family members. In some cases, staff may state that they wish to give a patient something to help them calm down without disclosing what it is or the risks it entails. In other cases, they simply administer the medication without any consent. The practice is considered chemical restraint and is strictly prohibited by federal law, yet is a common occurrence throughout the nation’s nursing home facilities.