Nursing Homes Excessively Use Antipsychotics On Patients

Nursing Home Negligence

When a family sends their elderly loved one to a nursing home, they expect that they will receive proper medical treatment and care. Unfortunately loved ones can be subjected to medication errors such as receiving the wrong prescription drug, inaccurate dosing, and other errors. Such errors can constitute medical malpractice.

A national analysis has revealed that nursing homes in the United States have given one out of every five residents antipsychotic medications. These numbers came for a sample of over one million patients in nursing homes. Of these patients, 22 percent were given at least one prescription for an antipsychotic medication. The levels at which nursing home residents are prescribed antipsychotic medications is high in the United States despite the evidence that shows that there are only marginal clinical benefits while there can be serious adverse effects, which can include death.

Data on dispensing of antipsychotics was analyzed by researchers during 2009-2010. The data used was from the long-term care pharmacy Omnicare. Medication services across the country are provided by Omnicare, including fro up to half of all residents. The data included information such as the patients’ age, residence, and sex.

There were 1,402,039 individuals included in the analysis. This included a subset of 561,681 who were observed continuously for three months. Of all the residents whose data was analyzed, just over 300,000 had at least one antipsychotic prescription. Of those who had a prescription, more than 67 percent had prescriptions from an atypical class of antipsychotics which would normally be used to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

These drugs included Quetiapine, Risperidone, and Olanzapine. In the analysis of the subgroup of patients observed for 90 days there was a median duration where all three of these drugs were used for 70 or more days. The range of duration for all antipsychotics during this three month period was 30 to 77 days.

These antipsychotics provided to nursing home residents are often used to treat conditions which they are not meant to treat, such as dementia. Additionally many of these patients are receiving not just one prescription but as many as ten, and, in some cases, even more. People who are hurt due to the improper use of medications can sue for medical malpractice.

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