A study recently published in the journal Medical Care reportedly found that anti-psychotic drugs are being overused in Veterans Affairs (VA) nursing homes at about the same rate as other long-term care facilities. According to researchers at the University of Pittsburgh, about 25 percent of elderly and disabled veterans who are living in VA skilled nursing facilities are currently taking anti-psychotic drugs. The study claims that at least 40 percent of the individuals who are prescribed anti-psychotic medications while residing in VA nursing homes are taking the drugs unnecessarily.
As part of the study, researchers reportedly compiled information regarding almost 4,000 patients who were admitted to one of the 133 VA nursing homes across the nation for at least 90 days between January 2004 and June 2005. Study authors purportedly found that only 59.3 percent of the elderly and disabled veterans who were administered an anti-psychotic medication had an evidence-based reason such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder for the prescription. According to one study author, University of Pittsburgh Assistant Professor of Health Policy and Management Walid Gellad, veterans who were diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease were 66 percent more likely to receive an anti-psychotic than other facility residents. In addition, patients who exhibited aggressive behavior were allegedly three times more likely to receive an anti-psychotic drug than other nursing home residents.
Anti-psychotic drugs allegedly do little to alleviate behavioral issues in individuals who suffer from dementia. In addition, the nation’s Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning that use of such pharmaceuticals in dementia patients is associated with an increased death rate. Gellad reportedly believes the overuse of anti-psychotics results from the difficulty many nursing home employees have in dealing with the behavioral symptoms often associated with dementia disorders. He said although skilled nursing facility staff may be attempting to maintain the safety and comfort of residents, better alternatives than sometimes dangerous anti-psychotic medications should be used.
Sadly, nursing home neglect or abuse is not always easy to identify. Administering inappropriate medications to a skilled nursing facility resident in order to make caring for them easier on untrained or insufficient staff is not acceptable. Similarly, the over-medication of long-term care facility residents is generally a recipe for abuse. If you believe a nursing home patient was the victim of abuse or neglect, you should speak to an experienced attorney regarding your concerns.
If your friend or loved one was hurt or otherwise abused while residing in an Illinois skilled nursing facility, contact the experienced lawyers at Abels & Annes, P.C. Our dedicated Chicago Metro nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys are available 24 hours per day, seven days per week to help you protect the rights of your elderly or disabled friends and family members. For a free consultation with a committed Illinois lawyer, give Abels & Annes, P.C. a call at (312) 475-9596 or contact us through our website.
Lawsuit Filed Against Arlington Heights Nursing Home After Maggots Discovered in Resident’s Ear, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, December 14, 2012
Bed Rail Deaths Come Under Scrutiny in Illinois and Nationwide, Illinois Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer Blog, December 11, 2012
Are psych drugs overused at VA nursing homes?, futurity.org