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What kind of prescription drugs is your loved one receiving?

Let us say that your mother is a nursing home resident. When you researched facilities, this was one of the best from all reports, and your mom seemed to settle in well.

She is a dementia patient with mild symptoms thus far, but lately, you notice changes. She deals with bouts of anxiety and depression, and you worry about the prescription drugs she receives, which include antipsychotics.

About antipsychotics

Studies from 2014 indicate that nearly 300,000 residents in nursing homes nationwide received antipsychotics that year. They were often prescribed to treat anxiety or aggressive tendencies that can accompany Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. This is still the case, but the proper use of antipsychotic drugs is to treat more serious mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and schizophrenia. If used incorrectly, these drugs can change behavior patterns. They can cause sedation, the risk of infections and even heart failure.

Keeping patients under control

Nursing home staff may administer the wrong medicine to a resident. This may occur because a nurse or CNA misinterprets a physician's instruction, or because a pharmacist issues the wrong medication instructions. In the case of antipsychotics, the law requires that nursing home residents or their guardians provide informed consent prior to the drugs' administration. However, the resident or guardian may know little about the effects of the antipsychotic or whether it is actually needed. Sometimes, staff members use it inappropriately and dangerously to keep an anxious or aggressive resident under control.

Seeking help

If you sense your mother is reacting to overmedication or has become the victim of some other kind of prescription drug error, explore your legal options without delay. Your suspicions may be well-founded. A thorough investigation may disclose that fault for the troubling symptoms your mother currently exhibits lies with nursing home staff, a doctor or a pharmacist. The negligent party must be held accountable for any harm she has suffered.

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