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When A Nursing Home Misuses Medication

Many of us are paying incredible sums of money each month to nursing homes to ensure that our elderly loved ones are being cared for in the best way possible, and a big part of that is properly administering medication. Unfortunately, this is an area that is rife for errors, from failure to provide life-sustaining medication to providing too much of a medication and causing an overdose. Some nursing home staff go so far as to use drugs to keep residents in a stupor so that they do not require as much attention. This is dangerous and illegal.

The skilled nursing home neglect and abuse team at Reddick Law can help. We know you may be unsure as to what to do. We offer a free consultation and case evaluation so that you can better understand the issue and your rights. Call 877-930-2080 to set up a meeting or conversation.

Medications That Are Frequently Overused

Physical restraints are no longer legal, but “chemical straitjackets” are sadly being employed by nursing homes to sedate patients to the point of constant sleeping. The staff uses the drugs for its own convenience, not to improve the life of the elderly person. Many different drugs can induce a heavily sedated or sleeping state. The most commonly used drugs are:

  • Antipsychotic drugs (especially haloperidol, risperidone and olanzapine, clozapine, Zyprexa and Seroquel)
  • Psychotropic drugs (any drug that affects a person’s mental state, and many drugs fall into this category)
  • Antidepressants (such as Luvox, Paxil and Celexa)
  • Benzodiazepines (for example, Valium, Xanax, Librium, lorazepam, diazepam and others)

These drugs should never be used inappropriately. Facilities and caregivers who unnecessarily sedate residents just to make their job easier need to be held accountable. Additionally, these medications can cause permanent brain damage. It is important to note that medication errors can and often do cause serious injury and, in some cases, death. These medication errors can happen in a nursing home, and in a medical facility or hospital.

Not all medical errors are due to attempts to chemically restrain a nursing home resident. Something as simple as failing to provide insulin to a diabetic patient can be life-threatening. Overdosing on heart medication such as beta-blockers like atenolol used for high blood pressure treatment or on dementia medication such as donepezil are also examples of medication errors in nursing homes.

Who Administers Medication To Nursing Home Residents?

When a nursing home administers medication to the residents of a nursing home, it needs to be done by a qualified individual. Appropriate people who can give out medication include doctors, nurses or any licensed health practitioner. An unlicensed party who received orders to give out medication by a registered nurse is also acceptable.

The administration of drugs in a nursing home is an extremely delicate process that needs to be done under strict regulations. When a home is not careful with how they give out their medicine, a resident can suffer complications from taking the wrong medication or dosage or taking the right medication at the wrong time. Thankfully, there are measures to prevent these risks.

How Should Medication Be Stored In Nursing Homes?

Medication should be stored in a secured area that is not accessible to residents. Staff should follow appropriate safety protocol when taking medication from this area and administering it. If a resident overdoses on a medication because it was improperly stored or left someplace where it could easily be accessed, the nursing home may be held accountable.

The storage condition of medications can affect the potency or effectiveness of the drugs when the staff administers them. If the storage area is too hot, bright, windy or moist, it can damage the integrity of the medication. To ensure that residents are receiving their medication safely, it is important that the staff store the medication in a cool dry area that is not in direct sunlight.

Prescription Drugs Vs. Recreational Drugs In Nursing Homes

Nursing home residents should be monitored to prevent the misuse of recreational drugs, which could prove harmful, particularly when combined with other prescription medication.

Further, when residents are struggling with an addiction, it affects the type of medication they can take. For example, if a resident has an opioid addiction and they need some form of pain alleviation, the staff mustn’t administer any opioid or addictive painkiller to the resident. If the staff is not fluent in their residents’ needs or they are not careful during drug administration, a resident can suddenly suffer a relapse or worse consequences that can threaten the resident’s life.

Reliable Guidance For Medication Errors

Our firm was established over a decade ago, in 2011. Each attorney and team member of our firm is committed to vigorously representing and protecting the rights of the injured and the victims of negligence.

Our team helps the families and victims of tragic, life-changing injuries. When appropriate, we aggressively pursue fair and just compensation for our clients. As personal injury attorneys, we provide legal support and guidance for victims in a wide variety of matters.

We endeavor to help our clients receive complete and timely compensation for their injuries and losses. We have earned our reputation for aggressively pursuing our clients’ interests and the ability to obtain impressive case results, with many verdicts and settlements in the millions of dollars. We work closely with medical professionals who specialize in serious injuries, which allows us to fully understand and appreciate the impact such injuries have on the individual as well as on the families of those injured. In addition, we utilize advanced trial technology in order to present evidence in a more user-friendly and accessible way. If you or a loved one has been injured, please contact us at 877-930-2080 or fill out our free online consultation form.