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Off-label use of antipsychotic drugs is nursing home abuse

Medications are commonplace in households and facilities where the elderly reside. People put their aging loved ones in caregiving homes to ensure that someone will be there when needed. Receiving the right medication can lengthen the lives of elderly people as well as providing physical comfort. However, the administration of antipsychotic drugs to nursing home residents who are not intended to take them is a case of off-label use and could be an act of nursing home abuse.

Reports have stated that at least one in five U.S. nursing homes use the antipsychotic drugs off-label. These medications pose risks to patients, who as a result may suffer health issues, including diabetes, a stroke, movement disorders and sudden cardiac death. According to the Food and Drug Administration, these medications cause lightheadedness, blurred vision, sudden drops in blood pressure, abnormal heartbeat and urinary problems. In 2010, about 185,000 nursing home residents received antipsychotics against FDA recommendations.

Despite the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’ call to lower the use of antipsychotic drugs among the residents of nursing care homes, their use has not dropped significantly. Although the goal was to reduce usage 15 percent at the end of last year, the decline was less than 8 percent nationally.

Everyone wants to live out their old age comfortably, and those who cannot care for themselves may need to spend part of their income to ensure that they will be cared for. Although a nursing home is a facility that should foster the well-being of its residents, acts of nursing home neglect or abuse occur, causing harm to residents. In that case, the resident or the victim’s family may file a civil lawsuit for compensation. Having to endure neglect and abuse can be burdensome and no one should be subjected to it.

Source: News Inferno, “Off-Label Use of Antipsychotics in Nursing Home Continues,” Cynthia Diaz Shephard, May 28, 2013

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