Report Suggests Nursing Home Residents are Overmedicated

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A frightening report by the Department of Health and Human Services seems to suggest that thousands of nursing residents in 2007 may have been given heavy doses of antipsychotic medication even when there was no need for such medication.  According to the report, which analyzed more than 300,000 nursing home residents in 2007, more than 90% of residents were given powerful antipsychotic medications that are typically used to treat serious mental conditions, like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

These patients were given antipsychotic medications even though there is evidence to prove that these medications can have harmful consequences in people who suffer from dementia.  The revelations from the report came after a member of Congress began to ask questions about how many nursing home residents in the country received antipsychotic drugs.

What is really frightening to Los Angeles elder abuse lawyers is that the pharmaceutical industry may have been involved in influencing medication of elders in nursing homes.  According to the review, approximately 83% of Medicare claims filed by nursing residents were for off-label uses, which means that these medications had not been approved for the purposes for which they were administered. In California, federal data suggests that such medications are used in approximately a quarter of all nursing home residents in the state.

There is evidence to suggest that pharmaceutical companies aggressively promote the use of antipsychotic medications in hospital and nursing home facilities.  Not long ago, Eli Lilly pleaded guilty to criminal charges that it aggressively promoted the use of its antipsychotic drug Zyprexa to doctors, including those who treat nursing home patients.  Besides, other companies including Bristol- Meyers Squibb, and Pfizer have also settled allegations that they pushed the use of some of their antipsychotic medications for unapproved uses.

The improper use of these antipsychotic medications in the elderly can prove deadly.  Overmedication of elders is just one of the ways that nursing home residents may be subjected to abuse.


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