For many, the aging process is accompanied by a sharp increase in the use of pharmaceuticals. In some cases, the drugs that are given are necessary and helpful. In far too many cases, they are unnecessary and given for purposes other than the best interests of the patient. Countless nursing homes are guilty of overmedicating their residents for a number of reasons. It is a persistent problem and is a form of nursing home abuse. Residents suffer a wide range of problems, and can even be killed, because of drugs that are administered improperly.
A federal lawsuit was recently filed against two California nursing homes for their practice of overmedicating residents. The lawsuit attempts to hold the nursing homes accountable under the False Claims Act. The idea is that the nursing homes are giving drugs that are paid for under the government programs Medicare and Medicaid. By giving the drugs unnecessarily and filing claims for reimbursement, the nursing homes are defrauding the government. It’s a valid theory, but doesn’t focus the attention on the nursing home residents and the damage being done to them.
Certain drugs that are popular among nursing homes have serious side effects. Countless people are given antipsychotic drugs that are completely ineffective for the conditions they suffer. Some of these drugs can take a relatively healthy person and rob them of functionality. They can rob a person of appetite and begin a quick downward spiral culminating in death. The drugs can make a person docile and easy to control, which some say is why they are so popular among nursing home staff.
Nursing homes are intended to serve the interests of their residents. Giving residents medications that they don’t need to keep them under control and increase the nursing home’s profits is abuse. It needs to stop, however that can be accomplished.
Source: National Public Radio, “Feds Hope Hitting Nursing Homes In The Wallet Will Cut Overmedication,” by Ina Jaffe, 5 September 2014