Nursing Home Oversedation Problems Pose Serious Risks

Carl Saiontz

By Carl Saiontz
Posted December 16, 2014


A recent report by National Public Radio highlights the continued over-use of antipsychotics at many nursing homes as a form chemical restraint for dementia residents, despite numerous warnings by the FDA and health experts about the risks associated with nursing home sedation using the drugs.

National Public Radio published a special report on December 9, highlighting the use of popular medications like Risperdal and Seroquel at nursing homes throughout the United States, finding that facilities may be endangering patients by giving them unnecessary and potentially harmful antipsychotics are rarely penalized by federal investigators.

Nursing homes often use the drugs to sedate dementia patients who are more challenging to manage. However, studies have suggested that the use of antipsychotics not only provide no benefits for dementia patients, but also increase their risk of death. As a result, the practice is essentially just another form of nursing home abuse.

Nursing Home Chemical Restraints

The report found that nursing homes in Texas were the worst offenders, with more than 25% still giving antipsychotics to patients. That is above the national average, which has dropped to 20% since the FDA and the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) began a drive to stop the practice.

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While officials with the American Health Care Association, which represents most of the nation’s nursing homes, point out that use of antipsychotics have dropped by 15% since the initiative began in 2012, NPR found that there is little actual enforcement action.

Laws against the use of chemical restraint drugs have been in effect for 27 years, since the passage of the Nursing Home Reform Act. However, in Texas, which has the highest percentage of offenders, nursing homes are also the least likely to be cited for nursing home abuse when the wrongly give antipsychotics to residents, the report found.

While the law gives CMS the power to levy fines, force correction plans and even boot facilities from the Medicare and Medicaid program, only 2% of infractions result in a fine or worse, according to the report.

In September 2014, the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care set a goal of reducing nursing home antipsychotic use by 25% before the end of 2015. The group hopes to see the numbers drop by a total of 30% by the end of 2016.

That announcement came just days after a study was published in JAMA Internal Medicine which revealed that more than half of all dementia patients in the U.S. appear to be receiving drugs that have no benefit and may be placing them at risk.

Nursing Home Oversedation Lawsuits

The nursing home lawyers at Saiontz & Kirk, P.A. review potential cases for abuse and neglect at facilities throughout the United States. If you believe that your loved one suffered a catastrophic injury or died as a result of the overuse of sedation or improper restraints, contact our law firm for a free consultation and claim evaluation.

1 Comment • Add Your Comments

  • Florence says:

    Well it is happening in Pembroke

    Posted on June 19, 2023 at 6:15 pm

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