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Is the nursing home chemically restraining your parent?

If you have had to place your parent in a New Mexico nursing home due to his or her failing health, you need to know about the fact that many such facilities engage in the illegal practice of chemical restraint. This practice refers to the nursing home dosing your parent with medications not prescribed for him or her by a physician, but which allow the nursing home staff to better control him or her.

Unfortunately, a recent investigation by Human Rights Watch of more than 15,000 nursing home nationwide confirms that chemical restraint has become a far too prevalent practice in many of them. If your parent suffers from Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, (s)he runs a great risk of becoming a victim. Upwards of 30% of the nursing homes investigated admitted that they routinely give these patients unprescribed antipsychotic drugs such as the following ones:

  • Haloperidol
  • Risperidone
  • Seroquel

Oversight failues

As you may already know, the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 provides your parent with many protections against nursing home abuse. But this law is only as good as its enforcement, and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, the agency mandated to enforce the NHRA, seems bent on shirking its responsibility.

For example, the CMMS issued only 7,029 citations for unauthorized nursing home administration of antipsychotic drugs during a recent four-year period, choosing to collect the mandatory fines in only 3% of these cases. Why? Because it determined that the other patients suffered “no actual harm” from being so dosed. Furthermore, the CMMS recently announced that it had placed a moratorium on the Food and Drug Administration’s outright ban against dosing Alzheimer’s disease and dementia patients with antipsychotic drugs.

If your parent suffers from one of these diseases, unfortunately this places you in the position of becoming his or her advocate. Remember, in most of the cases in which these types of patients received unauthorized antipsychotic drugs, neither they nor their families even knew about it.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.

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