Are Dangerous Drugs a Problem at Nursing Homes?

By Peter DePaolis

If your loved one is a nursing home resident, make sure you pay attention to any prescription medication that has been given to him or her.

According to National Public Radio, it is common for nursing home residents to be prescribed antipsychotic drugs to suppress anxiety or aggression that can be caused by Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. This goes against the approved uses for the drugs, which are only supposed to be prescribed when there are known medical reasons.

The use of the drugs is called “chemical restraint.” Many of the drugs, which include some that have black box warnings, have been linked to an increased risk for heart failure, infections and death.

According to NPR, a 2011 study found that “88 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotics prescribed in nursing homes were for treating symptoms of dementia, even though the drugs aren’t approved for that.”

In some cases, lawsuits have been filed over drugs like Risperdal and Haldol due to alleged injuries and wrongful deaths. Because the number of prescriptions for the drugs was so high at nursing homes, the government started a campaign to lower their use by 15 percent.

Still, even with the reduction efforts, NPR reported that almost 300,000 nursing home residents are treated with risky antipsychotic drugs.

A Healthcare Provider Injured Me. Can I File a Lawsuit?

Remember, if a healthcare provider or nursing home contributes to your loved one’s injuries, you can hold it liable through a malpractice lawsuit. This includes instances when dangerous medication is wrongfully prescribed to a patient.

If your loved one is a nursing home resident, he or she can probably not make educated decisions about his or her healthcare. A provider should not take advantage of someone suffering from dementia or other age-related complications. If this has happened to you, speak to our attorneys.

Our attorneys assist medical malpractice victims in Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County and Arlington County.

Koonz McKenney Johnson & DePaolis LLP

Maryland, Washington, D.C. and Virginia Injury Attorneys


About the Author
Peter DePaolis joined the firm in 1980 and has since represented a large number of individuals involved in automobile collisions, truck accidents, bus crashes, defective products, and medical malpractice cases. A significant portion of Mr. DePaolis’ practice is devoted to working on behalf of people suffering from asbestosis, mesothelioma, and other asbestos-related cancers. He has led his firm’s fight against the asbestos industry and has recovered over $30 million in damages for asbestos victims and their families.