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Nursing homes administering antipsychotic drugs without prescription

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The purpose for moving into a nursing home in Tennessee is to get the additional medical attention and personal care an individual needs while still maintaining as much independence as possible. The decision must often be made by a loved one because of health problems such as Alzheimer's or dementia, and it can be one of life's most difficult choices. While there are many resources available to help analyze the type of care each home provides, the presence of a serious issue may not be evident.

Recent investigations have identified life-threatening risks to nursing home patients involving the administering of inappropriate prescription drugs. Pharmaceutical companies have aggressively marketed antipsychotics to medical caregivers in nursing home facilities. A Johnson City nursing home abuse attorney may be able to relate details regarding class action lawsuits that resulted in billions of dollars in settlements.

Risk of death

In a recent report published by the American Association of Retired Persons, experts estimate that unnecessary and dangerous antipsychotic drugs are given to as many as one in five patients in nursing homes, even though the FDA has not approved them for use for the elderly. In fact, the "black-box warning" on drug labels clearly indicates that they are not safe for dementia patients, often causing side effects such as increased confusion and disorientation, anxiety and agitation.

Patient restraints

Physical restraints have been proven dangerous and ineffective, and their use is limited in nursing homes. Unfortunately, in facilities where there are not enough staff to provide adequate care, officials have discovered that drugs are sometimes used as a form of "chemical restraint." Antipsychotic medications act as sedatives for restless or agitated dementia patients, as a Johnson City nursing home abuse attorney may be aware.

Staffing issues

Poor training, low wages and long hours create a negative environment for those who provide care for this vulnerable and high-needs population. A nonprofit elder advocacy group, Families for Better Care, has developed a ranking system for the nation's nursing home facilities. Information provided on the group's website, nursinghomereportcards.com, shows that Tennessee nursing home residents received an average of 2.25 hours of direct care each day during 2014, far below the 4.1 hours recommended by the federal government. This places the state forty-fifth in the nation, and earns a failing grade.

Nursing home abuse and neglect pose a real threat to residents. Experts urge family members to be alert to signs of abuse, including depression, poor hygiene or unexplained injuries. Any suspected problems should be reported to a long-term care ombudsman. When there is evidence of preventable harm, a Johnson City nursing home abuse attorney may be able to provide assistance in bringing the responsible parties to justice.

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