When you have an elderly loved one in a nursing home or assisted living facility in New York, it can often be difficult to discern with any certainty whether there are risks of elder abuse or neglect. While some instances of nursing home abuse may be quite clear—such as broken bones, bruises, or other signs of physical mistreatment—other types of nursing home abuse and neglect have signs and symptoms that can be more difficult to identify. Overmedication is one potential way in which nursing home negligence can occur, and friends or family members of an overmedicated senior might not immediately recognize the dangers. In particular, many older adults with Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia are prescribed antipsychotic medications in off-label use.
Not all overmedication is an indicator of nursing home abuse or neglect, but it is important to learn about some of the ways in which medication usage and prescriptions drugs can play a role in nursing home abuse and neglect injuries among seniors in New York.
Overmedication can Harm Elderly Nursing Home Patients
Overmedication for anyone, including nursing home residents in New York, can be harmful and can have long-term effects. Whether a senior is simply taking more prescription drugs than she or he needs to treat a condition or is being intentionally overmedicated by a facility, it is critical for trusted family members to pay attention to prescription medications and to speak with an outside healthcare provider if there is anything that raises concerns.
Not All Perceived Overmedication Constitutes Negligence
According to an article in Healthline, overmedication is particularly common among older patients in nursing homes, but not all seeming overmedication is necessarily a result of negligence. The term overmedication in itself is somewhat subjective, and different practitioners of geriatric medicine might not necessarily agree about how many medications are too many for a senior in a nursing home. At the same time, it is critical to keep in mind that pharmaceutical companies have historically played a role in funneling certain drugs into nursing homes, including some opioids. You should discuss your specific concerns with a lawyer who can help you to determine whether you might have a case.
Signs of Overmedication can Vary
Depending upon the types of medication a senior is taking, the signs or symptoms of overmedication may vary. In some instances, older adults might seem particularly agitated without a clear explanation. In other situations, a senior in a nursing home might appear to be less responsive or sedated. Whenever you suspect that an older adult in a nursing home needs to have their prescription drug regimen assessed, it is important to talk with a healthcare provider who specializes in geriatric medicine.
Off-Label Use of Antipsychotic Drugs Has Long Been a Problem in Patients with Dementia
A particularly common type of overmedication, and potentially drug mis-use, is the off-label use of certain antipsychotic medications in nursing home residents, particularly in patients who suffer from dementia. Depending upon the circumstances, the use of these drugs could rise to the level of negligence.
Learn More from a New York Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer
Seniors in New York nursing homes have rights under New York law. If you have questions about holding a facility accountable for nursing home abuse or negligence, it is important to get in touch with a New York nursing home negligence attorney as soon as you can. Contact Leitner Varughese Warywoda PLLC for more information.