How to Spot Overmedication in Nursing Homes

Medication Management

Millions of Americans place their loved ones in nursing homes every year with the belief that their parents and grandparents will be cared for at all times. Unfortunately, with one out of every three nursing homes cited for abuse across the country, nursing home abuse is a very real problem in the United States. From dehydration and malnutrition to mental and sexual abuse, there are a variety of ways that residents can be mistreated in a nursing home facility. One common way many nursing home or assisted living facility residents can suffer is through overmedication.

One of the most important parts of nursing home care is ensuring nursing home residents are receiving the proper amount of medication at all times. And with the average nursing home resident taking seven to eight different medications a month, this can be a very involved process. Even with federal regulations in place to ensure nursing homes have a system to provide residents with the appropriate amount of medication according to their doctor or pharmacist’s orders, many residents suffer from overmedication every year.

In 2010, statistics from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) reported that over 17 percent of all nursing home patients were receiving antipsychotic medications that exceeded the recommended levels on a daily basis. This number has reportedly been as high as 25 percent in the state of California and even a staggering 71 percent in the state of Florida. Even more alarming statistics suggest that close to 40 percent of nursing home residents were given antipsychotic drugs in 2010 even though they were not diagnosed with psychosis.

Unfortunately, a large number of nursing home abuse cases go unreported. If your loved one is a nursing home resident, you need to be aware of the signs of overmedication so you can take appropriate action. Some of the most common signs of overmedication include:

  • Erratic or unexplained change in personality and behavior
  • Sudden reclusive actions (even toward family members)
  • Fatigue or exhaustion
  • Oversleeping
  • Medical complications or other unusual physical symptoms
  • Loved one appearing easily confused

The new trend of using psychoactive medication to control nursing home residents is extremely dangerous. The Food and Drug Administration estimates roughly 15,000 nursing home residents die every year from unprescribed anti-psychotics. This method of treating nursing home residents is unfortunately used for the following reasons:

  • Nursing home staff shortages
  • A “drug first” mentality when treating elderly patients

If you believe your loved one is suffering from overmedication, ask to see a log of the drugs given to your loved one or visit the nursing home when medication is typically given. You may also seek the assistance of a medical professional or attorney to have experienced and professional help on your side.

About the Author: Donna Swanson is a professional blogger who regularly contributes to a number of different sites. She is passionate about helping people understand how a nursing home abuse lawyer can help those who have been the unfortunate victims of nursing home abuse.