A new law is being proposed that will require nursing homes to submit a monthly report regarding the extent of antipsychotic medications being used at the facilities. According to a news report on McKnights.com, The Improving Dementia Care Treatment in Older Adults Act (S. 3604) was introduced this week by senators Herb Kohl, Chuck Grassley and Richard Blumenthal. This new law would basically standardize procedures for obtaining informed consent from a resident or their legally designated representative acknowledging the potential risks and side effects associated with psychotropic drugs.
The law also calls for the creation of prescriber education programs and campaigns to promote non-drug treatments for hostile dementia residents. Kohl says that the goal of the legislation is to decrease the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes and move toward safer alternatives.
Statistics Relating to Chemical Restraints
According to the 2011 Office of the Inspector General report, more than half of the 1.4 million claims for antipsychotic drugs added up to $116.5 million and did not comply with Medicare reimbursement criteria. The number of incidents of nursing home abuse through chemical restraint is reaching serious proportions in California.
The Agency for Health Care Research and Quality reports that more than 8 percent of nursing home residents in California were physically restrained in 2008. Medicare statistics from 2010 show that 24.2 percent of California nursing home residents were on antipsychotics. Unnecessary use of these types of drugs is often a sign a nursing home neglect or abuse.
Exploring Safer Alternatives
Drugging patients in order to find a way around actually caring for them is absolutely unacceptable. Nursing homes and specialized care facilities that are understaffed often resort to these shortcuts in order to subdue patients who need additional attention and care because of their dementia or reduced mental abilities. Research has conclusively shown that unauthorized or unnecessary use of these medications have devastating consequences on elderly patients. It could even prove fatal. Anyone who suspects that his or her family member is being chemically restrained or abused in a nursing home would be well advised to file a complaint with the administrator and the ombudsman. An experienced California personal injury attorney who specializes in handling nursing home abuse cases can help victims and their families better understand their rights.