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Nursing Home Residents Endangered by Off-Label Antipsychotic Drugs

Nursing homes are expected to provide loving care to residents and ensure them a safe home away from home. Elderly nursing home patients, particularly those with physical ailments or mental issues such as dementia and depression, need special attention. This is what nursing home negligence lawyers strive to ensure by advocating on behalf of those suffering from poor quality care.

Unfortunately, as various news reports in recent years have revealed, many nursing homes in the U.S are gaining bad reputations for inflicting terror, torture and carelessness on residents.These long term healthcare centers are now facing strict legislation and angry protests by loved ones.Elder abuse is a serious problem in these facilities.

The use of antipsychotic drugs for elderly dementia patients in nursing homes has come under attack by a group led by Sen. Richard Blumenthal. These elderly advocates say that the off-label use of antipsychotic drugs can be as harmful as physical restraints. Experienced nursing home abuse lawyers warn against such forms of abuse, and help to ensure justice for the aged souls who often cannot speak for themselves.

Some of the most controversial drugs include Quetiapine, Olanzapine and Risperidone, which calm down confused or agitated dementia patients. New proposed legislation could help to detect off-label use of these drugs. In the meantime, residents continue to be at risk.

The fact that nursing homes have been using these off-label drugs without major objection from the government is concerning since off-label use of these medicines has not been approved by the FDA. These drugs are dangerous because they can increase the chance of stroke or cause unresponsiveness in elderly nursing home inmates who are physically weak and fragile. This also leads to a heightened risk of death.

However, nursing homes in Connecticut have been carrying on off-label use of these antipsychotic drugs up to 65% of the time. This excessive use has economic consequences for taxpayers, according to a recent report from the Inspector General which revealed that 83% of all Medicare claims for nursing home antipsychotic drugs involved off-label use.

The proposed legislation would require specific consent from loved ones for drugs used on patients. The bill also has provisions for educational programs for nursing home staff on the use of these medicines. Nursing home facilities will also have to show greater accountability, by creating a monthly report that details the antipsychotic drugs they’ve used.

A Connecticut-based coalition consisting of pharmacy groups and public health employees hopes to cut down on the amount of off-label antipsychotic drug use. The group is calling on nursing homes to try methods other than medication to calm confused and agitated minds. These methods may include touch therapy or music therapy, along with developing a deeper understanding of the patients’ behavior to stop them from doing things that would frustrate them.

Nursing home negligence lawyers from reputable firms such as Pintas & Mullins Law Firm can ensure justice to victims of nursing home abuse. Elderly nursing home residents deserve quality care and we continue to strongly advocate on their behalf.