Over-Medication in nursing homes

Over-Medication in nursing homes 150 150 Lauren Ellerman

For years our industry has been aware of a terrible and heart breaking issue related to over-medication of elderly patients in long term care facilities.

Let’s face it – a CNA cannot properly care for 30 residents that are mobile, walking, fall risks, who need help getting to the bathroom, dining room, getting dressed etc. It is physically not possible to do all of that for 30 patients at one time. Accidents will happen. People will get hurt. They won’t get changed, taken to the bathroom, given the right meds etc. But what if 10-15 of those folks are sitting quietly in their beds during the shift. That makes things easier, doesn’t it?

The reality of understaffing creates the temptation to over-medicate the more active patients. Nursing notes may refer to them as combative, difficult to direct, etc., and so with a faxed note to the doctor, nurses are recommending very strong medications for elderly patients and as a result, patients are being over-medicated, and they become less active, less opinionated, less mobile and more sedate.

In an article posted on the National Institute of Health’s website, (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3128509/)

“Psychotropic medications are commonly administered to elderly clients to manage behavior and psychiatric symptoms. These drugs are known to have potentially serious side effects, to which older adults are more vulnerable. Nurses care for older adults in many different practice settings but have varying degrees of knowledge about these kinds of medications. The purposes of this article are to (a) provide information to geriatric nurses in all settings about how the most commonly prescribed psychotropic medications (i.e., anxiolytic, antidepressant, and antipsychotic drugs) differentially affect older adults; (b) examine recent concerns about the use of psychotropic medications with older adults; and (c) discuss nursing implications for those administering psychotropic medications to older adults.”

Did you get that?

According to a published article from 2009 – medications are used in elderly patients to manage behavior.

And these, like all  medications, have side effects. Such as falls, depressed appetite, causing all kinds of problems with nursing home patients.

So when your loved one is given a new medication – ask what it is, why they need it, and if and when it causes a change in their condition – question it. Demand it stop if they don’t need it, and demand a doctor explain why it is necessary – not the nurse.

Overmedication is a problem. Help stop it by asking questions.

Call our office if you fear your loved one has been injured because of it.





About the author

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.

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