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Is your elderly relative being over medicated in a nursing home?

There's no question that modern medications have worked wonders for Ann Arbor residents of all ages. Senior citizens in particular often rely on daily medications to manage conditions and maintain their quality of life. Those in assisted living facilities will commonly rely on caregivers to provide them with the correct medications at the correct dosages as part of their care.

For this reason, however, residents are also vulnerable to over medicating or under medicating when the staff of a nursing home neglect to follow the directions associated with medications. In some cases, patients may be receiving medications not even intended for their conditions. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' website offers a report that is likely to leave readers asking themselves: Is my loved one receiving the right medications at the right doses?

The report focused on one class of medication in particular: antipsychotics. It reviewed Medicare claims from nursing home patients for these drugs over a six-month period. It found that, while over 300,000 residents, or approximately 14 percent, had claims for antipsychotics, over half of those claims were being denied.

Why were they being denied? Because the powerful, potentially dangerous or even lethal drugs were being administered in ways for which they were not intended. In some cases, the drugs were administered in ways that violated federal regulations regarding their dosage or duration of treatment. Among the most shocking findings was that, despite warnings that treating dementia patients with antipsychotics could prove fatal, their use in dementia cases approached 90 percent.

The report cites numerous additional violations and points of concerns regarding the usage of antipsychotics in nursing home residents. And this, we should note, is just one category of medication. If you have concerns about the safety of a loved one in a nursing home, particularly as it relates to proper medication, it's important to speak up. Overmedicating, under medicating and using medications improperly are forms of nursing home abuse that may be actionable through a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Source: U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, "Medicare Atypical Antipsychotic Drug Claims for Elderly Nursing Home Residents," accessed on Aug. 28, 2015

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Goethel Engelhardt, PLLC
3049 Miller Road
Ann Arbor, MI 48103

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