A class action lawsuit has been settled for $345,000 after dozens of patients and family members of patients allege they were given powerful drugs without due consideration for the harmful impact those drugs may have on patients.
In one example, the son of a nursing home patient alleged he was explicit in explaining his mother’s wishes and directing doctors not to give her any painkillers except aspirin and no antipsychotic medications. Despite this, they gave her Restoril, an anti-anxiety medication, Norco (a pain medication with a high risk for addiction and dependency also known to cause respiratory distress) and Lexapro, an SSRI anti-depressant. Plaintiff alleged the nursing home signed a paper saying the doctor had received consent from patient and/ or health care power of attorney to administer the drugs, but no such permission had been given. Other patients/ families alleged they were given anitpsychotic medications to suppress certain symptoms of dementia – a practice known as “chemical restraints” that is not only largely ineffective, it can be harmful. It’s generally done more the convenience of staffers than for the benefit of the patient.
Although the amount of money to be awarded to each family is minimal, but plaintiffs say their larger goal was to compel changes at the facility. As part of the settlement agreement, the facility will be required to undergo random spot inspections of health records. The nursing home must enact clear standards explaining the benefits and risks of psycho-therapeutic drugs to residents and/ or legal representatives. Continue reading →