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Psychotropic Drug Use and Nursing Home Abuse: What You Should Know


If you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home in New York, it is critical to understand the various ways in which nursing home abuse and neglect can occur. One way in which a nursing home may be negligent is if a patient with dementia suffers harm after being administered antipsychotic drugs. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), investigations have shown that “elderly nursing home residents who were prescribed antipsychotics, a type of psychotropic drug, were at risk for harm.” While antipsychotic drugs can be used for their intended purposes effectively, they are often used at nursing homes in an “off-label” manner for dementia patients. When those patients are prescribed and administered antipsychotic drugs, they can suffer serious harm, and the nursing home may be responsible for negligence.


What do you need to know about antipsychotic drugs and dementia patients in nursing homes? Our New York nursing home negligence lawyers have information to help you, and we can speak with you today about an elderly loved one’s situation in a nursing facility if you have questions or concerns.


What are Antipsychotic Drugs?


Psychotropic drugs, which include antipsychotic drugs, have been used in nursing home settings to medicate dementia patients. While that might sound appropriate, it is important to know that antipsychotic medications were not designed and are not intended for this type of use. According to WebMD, antipsychotic drugs are supposed to be “used as a short or long-term treatment for bipolar disorder to control psychotic symptoms such as hallucinations, delusions, or mania symptoms.” They were not created for use among seniors with dementia.


Why are Antipsychotic Drugs Used in Nursing Homes?


Why are antipsychotic drugs used in nursing homes? According to U.S. News & World Report, these specific types of medications can be used in an off-label manner “in treating older adults with Alzheimer’s, and other forms of dementia, when behaviors associated with those conditions become difficult to manage.” You should know that antipsychotics when used in this context are often described as “chemical straitjackets,” and they are often misused and overused among seniors with dementia.


These drugs can be particularly dangerous when used to manage symptoms of dementia in older adults. Indeed, the FDA reports that Haldol, a commonly used type of antipsychotic drug, “significantly increases the risk of death from heart problems, falls and infections when administered to elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis.”


Nursing Home Negligence and Psychotropic Drug Use


If a nursing home administers antipsychotic drugs to dementia patients in this type of off-label use, the facility could be liable for injuries caused by the use of the medication.


Contact a New York Nursing Home Neglect Attorney


If you have any questions or concerns about an elderly loved one’s safety or well-being in a nursing home, or if you need assistance filing a claim after you loved one was harmed by the administration of psychotropic drugs in off-label use, an experienced New York nursing home negligence attorney at our firm can assist you. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC to learn more about our services.

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