Inappropriate Use of Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes

Each day, nursing homes give residents thousands of powerful antipsychotic medications that are not approved for the conditions the residents have. A study found that approximately 22% of nursing home residents have a prescription for an antipsychotic. Often these drugs are administered without the consent of the resident or their family. These drugs can be dangerous to the elderly and shouldn’t be used for the convenience of nursing home staff.


What are Antipsychotics? 

Antipsychotics are psychiatric drugs that are meant to treat mental health conditions with symptoms that include psychosis. These drugs are typically used to treat conditions such as schizophrenia and schizoaffective disorder.


Why are Antipsychotics Prescribed to Nursing Home Residents? 

Antipsychotics are frequently prescribed to nursing home residents who suffer from dementia. Residents with dementia may experience periods of restlessness and agitation. Often they are confused and can become violent. Rather than handling the situation through other means, nursing homes often prescribe antipsychotics as a form of chemical restraint of these residents. The drugs don’t provide any real treatment of dementia. They are just a means of controlling residents and making the jobs of nursing home staff easier.


Why is it Not Safe to Prescribe Antipsychotics to the Elderly?

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has issued a “black box” warning against the use of antipsychotics in the elderly. These drugs can negatively affect the social and emotional well-being of a resident. They also greatly increase the risk of strokes, heart attacks, diabetes, Parkinsonism, and falls. When used in residents with dementia, there is an increased risk of death.


Federal Standards 

Under the federal Nursing Home Reform Law, nursing home residents have the right to be treated with dignity and be free from abuse and neglect. The standards specifically address the inappropriate use of antipsychotics and chemical restraints. Nursing homes are instructed to avoid using antipsychotics unless they are necessary for a diagnosed condition. A nursing home must ensure that they have informed consent from the resident or the resident’s family before administering the drugs. Residents have a right to refuse. Nursing homes who fail to follow these standards and inappropriately administer antipsychotics should be held liable.


Contact a Nursing Home Neglect Attorney

If you or your loved one has been prescribed antipsychotics in a nursing home, you should have an experienced attorney evaluate your case. At Bonina & Bonina, P.C., we have been helping the victims of nursing home neglect for over 50 years. Contact us online or call us at 1-888-MEDLAW1 to schedule your free consultation. Home and hospital visits are available. Se habla español.