Our Martin County nursing home abuse lawyers are troubled that some nursing home facilities view the overmedication of patients as an appropriate form of patient management, allowing for less intensive care, fewer staffers and a reduction of combative patients.
Of course, the glaring gap that this perspective fails to address is the health and well-being of the patient – the ones for whom these facilities have pledged to provide quality care.
Yet we continue to see evidence of this kind of protocol throughout the country.
In some cases, overmedication of patients are due to staff errors or a lapse in facility procedure.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services reported in 2010 that approximately 17 percent of all nursing home patients were being prescribed antipsychotic medications that exceeded the recommended amount – on a daily basis.
Florida nursing homes have the worst track record in the country for this, with CMS reporting that an astonishing 71 percent of all nursing home patients are overmedicated.
Perhaps even more troubling (if that’s possible) is that about 40 percent of those patients receiving antipsychotic medications have never actually been diagnosed with any kind of pyschosis.
The U.S. Food & Drug Administration reports that some 15,000 nursing home residents are estimated to die every year from overmedications.
Sadly, many of those cases go unnoticed or unreported.
Recently, the California Department of Health slapped a nursing home facility with a $100,000 fine for the overmedication – and subsequent death – of an 82-year-old stroke patient who had essentially overdosed on Coumadin, which is a blood-thinning medication.
The male patient had been partially-paralyzed after having a stroke back in 2005. The following year, he was taken to a nursing home in northern California.
Sometime during the spring of 2011, the man fell from his wheelchair, striking his head and causing severe facial bruises, including a blackened eye. Regulators say at that point, the man should have been hospitalized immediately.
However, it wasn’t until several days later – and only at the insistence of the man’s daughter – that he was rushed to a nearby hospital. At that time, hospital staff learned that the man was suffering from severely low blood pressure and organ failure. His Coumadin levels? Nearly 20 times the normal amount.
He died a short time later.
At the time this happened, the facility at which he was housed was owned by a firm that in 2010 was found guilty of elder abuse, and ordered to pay nearly $30 million in damages to the family of a deceased patient.
Overmedication can be tough for family members to spot, but it’s important to educate yourself as much as possible to catch it early if you can. Some signs that something may be amiss include:
–Unexplained and/or erratic changes changes in your loved one’s behavior or personality;
–A sudden reclusive attitude, even toward beloved family members;
–Constant exhaustion or fatigue;
–Unusual physical symptoms or medical complications;
–Easy confusion or disorientation.
Freeman, Mallard, Sharp & Gonzalez — 1-800-561-7777 for a free appointment to discuss your rights.
Lincoln nursing home cited, fined for overmedicating patient, March 24, 2013, By Anita Creamer, Sacramento Bee
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Sebastian Nursing Home Negligence Sometimes Tied to Feeding Tubes, March 15, 2013, Martin County Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog