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Why do nursing homes use psychotropic drugs for dementia?

| Dec 6, 2018 | Nursing Home Abuse |

New Mexico dementia patients require a lot of care due to their declining memory and cognitive abilities. In many cases, nursing homes will use psychotropic drugs to help sedate and calm dementia patients. However, using these drugs is not appropriate for dementia patients, and as of the past decade, the Food and Drug Administration has required manufacturers to place warning labels on these drugs.

The Washington Post reported that nursing homes over the years have used these drugs to restrain or “discipline” dementia sufferers. The FDA, however, has required drug manufacturers to place the strongest possible warnings on psychotropic drugs to make it clear that their use on dementia patients is not advised. And while psychotropic drug usage has decreased in nursing homes has decreased, one in six nursing home patients still receive them without receiving an approved diagnosis.

In spite of the fact that these drugs are not recommended for treating dementia sufferers, nursing homes still use them. Sometimes the staff will do so in ways that clearly violate federal laws and the general human rights of the patients. For example, nursing homes will fail to seek out informed consent from residents by informing them of the risks involved with taking the drug.

So why do nursing homes employ these risky drugs? Several common reasons exist:

  • the drugs are used to compensate for lack of staff
  • the staff believes the drugs can successfully treat dementia
  • the staff is inexperienced in treating dementia
  • ignorance of the dangers of these drugs

Whether it is due to ignorance of the effects of these drugs or a desire to control the behavior of dementia patients, abuse of psychotropic drugs is a violation of the rights of nursing home residents and should be watched for.

Be advised that this article is not written to provide any legal advice. Its purpose is only to educate readers on nursing home abuse topics.