Can Nursing Homes Overmedicate Residents?

We depend on nursing homes and nursing home staff to adequately care for our loved ones when we are no longer able to do so. Unfortunately, nursing home abuse is not uncommon in Illinois. One form of nursing home abuse is the overmedication of residents. There are a variety of reasons that a nursing home resident may be overmedicated, ranging from accidental overmedication to intentional actions taken by nursing home staff to overmedicate a patient.

What is Overmedication?

Overmedication occurs when an elderly patient takes or is given excessive amounts of medication and is a type of elder abuse and neglect. This definition can also be used if a nursing home resident takes unnecessary medications. Overmedication can happen by mistake or can be an intentional action taken by the staff of a nursing home.

If a nursing home resident is overmedicated intentionally, this will be considered a form of elder abuse. If a nursing home resident is accidentally overmedicated, this could be a sign of nursing home neglect.

How Common is Overmedication in Nursing Homes?

Nursing home abuse and neglect are vastly underreported across the United States. However, the National Council on Aging has stated that at least one out of every ten people over the age of 60 has experienced some form of elder abuse. Unfortunately, nursing homes and other long-term care facilities are rife with various forms of abuse. This is particularly true when the staff of a nursing home finds a patient’s illness difficult to manage.

Often, elderly residents in nursing homes suffer from dementia or other problems that make it difficult to care for them. When this happens, nursing home staff often use tranquilizers of some form, sometimes in excess. This can include the use of potent psychotropic medications such as Seroquel, Risperdal, and others. Intentional overmedication is usually done so that the patient is easier to control, and this is commonly referred to as chemical restraint.

A recent report in Health Journalism discovered that approximately 20% of nursing home residents, more than 250,000 people, are given potent psychotropic medications on a regular basis.

Signs of Overmedication

There are various signs and symptoms that family members can be on the lookout to determine whether their loved one has been overmedicated. Importantly, family members should note any behavioral changes that seem out of the ordinary, drastic, or erratic.

Other common symptoms of her medication include:

  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Exhaustion
  • Oversleeping

Family members should also look out for unexplained bruising, lacerations, or skin tears, as this could be a sign of a patient falling due to over medication.

What To Do If You Believe Your Loved One is Being Overmedicated

If you believe that your loved one has been overmedicated in a nursing home or long-term care facility, you need to speak to an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can guide you in removing your loved one from a nursing home and your legal options. At Horwitz Horwitz & Associates, our nursing home abuse attorneys have the resources and legal experience necessary to conduct a complete investigation into your loved one’s situation. Our goal is to ensure they are properly cared for and receive any compensation they are entitled to for the treatment they have endured. When you need an attorney, please call our Chicago office at (312) 372-8822 or our Joliet office at (815) 723-8822. You can also call our toll free number at (800)-985-1819.