An investigation into the way the elderly are being treated in Texas nursing homes suggests that potentially dangerous antipsychotic drugs are being administered to residents who do not need them so staffing levels can be reduced. The investigation was conducted by a Dallas-area television station. This is considered a serious problem because drugs like Risperdal can be extremely dangerous. According to the Federal Drug Administration, antipsychotic medications that are administered for no good reason kill about 15,000 elderly nursing home residents each year.
Lax state laws
Most states have strict regulations that require nursing homes to maintain adequate staffing levels, but there are no such rules in Texas. Personnel costs account for about 70% of a nursing home’s total overheads, which means reducing the workforce is a quick and easy way for them to boost their bottom lines. Antipsychotic drugs allow nursing homes to do this because they sedate residents and reduce the demands they place on their caregivers. Drugs administered for this purpose are referred to as chemical restraints. According to the investigation, 96% of the nursing homes in Texas engage in this questionable practice.
Falsified medical records
Before a nursing home can administer antipsychotic drugs, a licensed physician must diagnose one of three medical conditions. The most common reason for using these medications in nursing homes is a diagnosis of schizophrenia. This suggests that nursing homes may be falsifying medical records as people who suffer from schizophrenia are usually diagnosed when they are in their 20s. The Texas Long-Term Care Ombudsman warned nursing homes about the dangers of administering antipsychotic drugs inappropriately in 2016. However, the results of the investigation suggest that few nursing homes have heeded this warning.
Pursuing justice for nursing home residents
If you’re worried about the treatment a loved one is receiving in a nursing home, a lawyer with experience in this area could examine your case and advise you regarding your legal options. If the facts indicate that your loved one could be the victim of negligence or nursing home mistreatment, an attorney could file a lawsuit against the facility in question seeking compensation for their injury, loss or damage.