Over prescribing medications for nursing home patients

We see it all the time.

Someone is admitted to a long term care facility in Virginia (nursing home or assisted living) and their medications are immediately changed. Pills 2

Within days, the nursing staff finds some behavioral issue (falls, wandering, lack of appetite, depression, aggression, refusal to comply with staff requests) with the resident and asks the doctor for more medication. More medication is prescribed.

But please consider how dangerous this is when you have a patient with long term medication use, that is now in a new place, under the care of a new doctor and now has numerous new medications. It is a recipe for disaster.

Today I was reading a journal written for long term care professionals (not lawyers like me) and the first article addresses the issue of overprescribing being a “major cause of poor outcomes” in long term care.

I look forward to seeing where the medical profession goes with this conversation, but until then, I have a plea for families.


BE willing to call your primary care physician to schedule a consult on the NH meds.

BE willing to say no to some medications.

BE willing to question whether medications are causing problems and significant side effects that make the medication not worth it.

BE an advocate. DO YOUR RESEACH.

While I am not saying it is the job of families to be doctors, I am saying there is a known problem where residents are being overprescribed. And while I don’t have the ear of every nursing home nurse or doctor, I do have the eyes of a few patient families, and so I ask that the questioning start there.


Lauren Ellerman
Lauren Ellerman

In 2011, Lauren Ellerman was named "Young Lawyer of the Year" by the Roanoke Bar Association for her work in the community. To speak with Lauren about your personal injury case, contact her at lellerman@frithlawfirm.com.