Overmedication Is A Form Of Elder Physical Abuse Under California Law
California’s Elder Abuse Law protects elders (anyone 65 year of age or older) and dependent adults from physical abuse, which includes use of a chemical restraint or psychotropic medication under any of the following conditions:
(1) For punishment.
(2) For a period beyond that for which the medication was ordered pursuant to the instructions of a physician and surgeon licensed in the State of California, who is providing medical care to the elder or dependent adult at the time the instructions are given.
(3) For any purpose not authorized by the physician and surgeon.
Over Medicating Seniors Linked To Reduced Staffing Levels At Nursing Homes
Far too many private nursing homes and assisted living centers for seniors are focused on increasing profit. When a nursing home looks to cut costs, its often looks to its highest cost which is labor. This explains why understaffing and staffing by unqualified personnel is so prevalent in nursing homes. The facilities fail to adequately monitor and provide for the basic needs of their residents. As a result, residents can suffer from decubitus ulcers (often called bed sores), dehydration and malnutrition.
Linked to reduced staffing levels has been the heavy use by nursing homes and assisted living centers of antipsychotics and sedatives to control their residents. Antipsychotic drugs are often provided under the guise of suppressing anxiety or aggression that accompanies Alzheimier’s disease. Nursing home and assisted living center administrators, however, know that they cut staffing levels if their residents are sleeping most of the day, as well as at night.
Antipsychotic drugs can increase the risks of heart failure and infections, and make residents more susceptible to falls. Overmedicated seniors have been mistakenly diagnosed with depression, dementia, and even Alzheimer’s disease.
California Elder Physical Abuse Law Rights And Remedies
California law protects elders, dependent adults, and developmentally disabled person from many types of abuse and neglect. The law provides provides for the recovery of damages for pain and suffering, economic damages, and punitive damages when there has been recklessness, fraud and/or patient abandonment.
Action Steps In Response To Elder Physical Abuse
If you suspect elder abuse and neglect and abuse, don’t hesitate to take action. Consider the following:
- If the senior is in immediate danger from physical abuse or has been physically abused, call 9-1-1. Elder abuse is a crime.
- Take action so that elder abuse is reported, and appropriate civil and criminal ramifications imposed.
For local reporting agencies call the Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or visit their website at www.eldercare.gov. Reporting agencies may include the State Department of Social Services, the State Department of Health Services (nursing home complaint division), county Adult Protective Services (APS) and county ombudsmans.
When you call to report Elder Abuse be prepared to with the following information: elder’s name, address, and contact information, the type of support received by the elder (family, medical, social care, etc.) and details of the type of elder abuse and who the abuser is.
- It is critical to document the senior’s physical condition as much as possible as well as his/her living conditions. Take photographs of the injuries the senior suffered and his or her room. Record in a notebook or computer unsanitary conditions, poor hygiene, bedsores, physical abuse and improper restraints.
- If possible make formal complaints to facility supervisors. Document the dates you called, who you spoke with and what the response was. Keep copies of all correspondence.
Contact An Elder Physical Abuse Attorney At The Dolan Law Firm
Once you address the senior’s immediate safety and health care needs, you will rightly be upset at how your loved one was treat. Take action and contact us without delay.
One of the leading personal injury law firms in California, the Dolan Law Firm represents seniors and families from San Francisco, Oakland, Marin, the entire Bay Area and across California in elder abuse and neglect lawsuits. Please click here to contact us or call us toll free at 1-888-452-4752.