Pervasive Pharmaceutical Misuse In Nursing Homes

If you have an elderly parent or relative in a nursing home, worry. According to an article in yesterday’s New York Times, Overmedication in the Nursing Home, psychiatric drug misuse in nursing homes is way up there.

Within three months of admission, a team of University of South Florida researchers determined, 71 percent of Medicaid residents in Florida nursing homes were receiving a psychoactive medication — an antidepressant or anti-psychotic, say, or dementia drugs — even though most were not taking such drugs in the months before they moved in and didn’t have psychiatric diagnoses. Fifteen percent of residents were taking four or more such medications. But only 12 percent were getting nondrug treatments like behavioral therapy.

71 %, that’s approaching 3/4th. This is not good. Some of these drugs are known for their capacity to shorten life spans.

“It seems the use of psychoactive medication is trumping the use of nondrug treatments,” Dr. Molinari said.

And given the possible interactions with the many other drugs most residents take, an average 10 or more prescriptions, “it could well be that we’re causing problems like falls, confusion and delirium, and hospitalizations,” he cautioned.

Not to mention deaths.

“For years, I’ve had calls from family members saying, ‘Mom was completely lucid when she went into the nursing home, and a week later she no longer recognized us,’” said Janet Wells, public policy director of NCCNHR, formerly the National Citizens’ Coalition for Nursing Home Reform. “Families should question why drugs are prescribed, do some research. A lot of drugs are being used as restraints.”

What looks like senile dementia, in some instances, could turn out to be psychiatric drug intoxification.

These ‘chemical restraints’ are the drugs you should be particularly concerned about. They are the drugs that are known for shortening the time your elderly parent or relative may have remaining.

Although the article talks about making systemic changes, doing something about the issue at present is left up to the families that have a family member or members in nursing home care.

6 Responses

  1. The last place I ever worked was as a consultant at an aged care facility. They were typical in that they tranquillized residents to save on nursing hours. I’m sure it’s still the case all over.

  2. How can I find a way to protect myself from these disgusting, evil criminals in old age?

    Just take a moment of silence now, and think about all the millions of lovely old men and women who are drooling zombies thanks to the callous human rights atrocities that pass for best practice ‘medicating’ in these pathetic snake pits.

    I for one, could never in good conscience take a job working in one of these hell holes and getting blood on my hands by association with such an obscene, utterly evil life robbing practice.

    • Over prescription and mis-prescription of neuroleptics drugs in nursing homes is big news in the UK where an investigation has been launched. The Chicago Tribune has been conducting an investigation of its own into the prescription of these drugs in nursing homes in Illinois. People just don’t know. First people need to know there is a problem. When an investigation is launched, the problem can’t be kept hidden.

      They have to be told that neuroleptic drugs in fact aren’t recommended in the treatment of Alzheimers or senile dementia. These drugs can cause seizures, strokes, and even death.The way to protect yourself from being harmed in your old age is by getting the word out there, and by applying pressure on the government to provide more thorough oversight of nursing homes that includes monitoring the ‘medications’ being used on residents.

      It is also a matter of doing what’s best for your own relatives, if they are still around, when they become infirm, and may need care.

  3. I didn’t work in aged care much for that reason and when I did I worked agency (casual). This last place I worked I was working as a consultant, installing software and streamlining their documentation methods. I wanted to do that as my main business, retire from actual nursing.

    The place was a snake pit and the staff made false reports about my behavior. This was six years ago. One night one of the staff confided to me that she had bipolar disorder and that she took medication.

    I knew I was taking a risk when I told her that I had been diagnosed as such also but wasn’t concerned and didn’t take medication. They also knew that I was a critic of using any kind of psychotrope in aged care.

    The place was due for a standards inspection and failed as I knew and had told the staff it would. The director then made false reports. I haven’t worked in nursing since, been struck of as a registered nurse. I’ve been forcibly committed 6 times because I refuse to accept a diagnosis and been jailed for three months for stalking.

  4. Some family doctor’s still make “house calls” so that they can continue to see their patient when they go into a nursing home, because they like them. The doctor often becomes pressured by guilty nurses and guilty relatives to drug them. One reason he might have continued to see the patient is to attempt forestall this but he might not be able to resist the pressure of:

    1. Nursing staff.
    2. Relatives.
    3. Colleagues who may be more willing to prescribe
    4. The government which is only paying lip service to the problem of “over medicating”.

    I understand where BO’s coming from. But I say It can be difficult and at the same time morally permissable for a decent person to work in a nursing home as a Registered Nurse. The nurse can work in the place and even give meds without in any way having contributed to the prescribing.

    But in a coercive psych hospital every nurse must contribute and explicitly support the reasoning for the diagnosis knowing that diagnosis means drugs. There is no moral defense unless the nurse is a saboteur.

    • It’s not right to damage the health of the elderly. It’s not right to damage the health of children either. Here we’ve got two groups of very vulnerable people that people should be caring about, and not harming. They’ve got the charisma factor going for them as well. The state mental hospital is a cess pool because you’re dealing with people that somebody, or somebodies, wants out of the way for a spell, if not permanently. There’s no charisma in that. My hope is that when people begin to do something about the obvious misuse of these drugs on people who by most accounts shouldn’t be receiving them at all, then they can think about doing something about the more subtle and sinister misuse of these drugs on people for whom such drugging is considered ‘standard practice’.

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