Overmedication: A Form of Elder Abuse
A simple reality of nursing homes is that many of the residents, if not most, will be on some sort of medication. These medications are often lifesaving or palliative in nature, and there is no reason to ever deny these medications to residents. However, there are times when nursing home staff members over-medicate patients. There are various reasons that this occurs, and we want to discuss the ramifications of over-medication here.
What is Overmedication?
The overmedication of a nursing home resident occurs anytime an elderly person takes (or is given) excessive amounts of medication are given unnecessary medications. Over-medication can occur in a wide variety of settings, not just nursing homes. In some cases, over-medication is a mistake. However, if a nursing home resident is intentionally over-medicated, this is a form of elder abuse.
Why is Overmedication Common in Nursing Homes?
As seniors get older and develop more mental or physical disabilities, there is a tendency for nursing home facilities to over-prescribe powerful medications that can have a wide range of complications for the resident.
As is the case with many private nursing homes, we often see that the problem of over-medication is linked back to overall profits. As horrible as this may sound, nursing homes have found that one way to cut down on costs to reduce their highest expense, which is the staff members. Understaffed facilities how much more likely to turn to over-medicating their residence as a form of control.
Examples of Overmedication
There are various examples of our medication in nursing homes in California and throughout the US. Not every case of overmedication will look the same, and some other ways this can occur include the following:
- Administering medications without checking to see how they will interact with a patient’s condition or other meds.
- Giving a medication without a prescription from a doctor.
- Failing to obtain informed consent from the individual or their health care proxy before administering medications.
- Giving a patient a medication for an injury or illness that they have not been evaluated for.
There are various consequences to overmedicating nursing home residents. An overly sedated patient could be susceptible to the following:
- Balance issues caused by dizziness, which can lead to an increased risk of falls.
- Fatigue and exhaustion caused by the medications, which can lead to a patient being unable to ask for help or even recognize that they are developing illnesses or injuries.
- Various medical complications such as seizures, high or low blood pressure, heart failure, or migraines.
- Prolonged states of disorientation or confusion.
Overmedication, Dementia, & Alzheimer’s
One of the most common types of over-medication revolves around the use of antipsychotics and sedatives, particularly for patients with Alzheimer’s or dementia. These diseases make it very difficult for caretakers to deal with at times, and it can be tempting to over-medicate the patient to provide a quick fix for the problem. However, the use of various psychotropic medications, such as Seroquel and Risperdal, can have incredibly dangerous side effects.
Get Help from a Riverside Elder Abuse Lawyer
If you discover or suspect that your loved one has been over-medicated in a nursing home in Riverside, reach out to an attorney as soon as possible. A skilled Riverside elder abuse lawyer will get involved immediately and conduct an investigation. An attorney will work with law enforcement officials as well as state and federal regulators to determine exactly what happened and help families pursue compensation from the at-fault parties.