Nursing Home Injuries and the Risk of Overmedication

Abuse and Neglect

Nursing home injuries are among the most distressing cases that attorneys handle. You place a significant amount of trust in a nursing home and the nursing home’s staff to care for a loved one.

This decision is fraught with emotion and diligent research, all to maintain your loved one’s health, comfort, and social engagement.

When the unthinkable happens, and your loved one suffers an injury due to overmedication, dealing with the possibility that your loved one has been abused can be extremely challenging.

If you find yourself in this heart-wrenching situation, know that you don’t have to navigate it alone.

Legal avenues are available to hold responsible parties accountable and to seek the financial resources needed to support your loved one’s recovery.

Contacting a Charleston nursing home abuse lawyer for a free legal consultation could be the first step in making things right.

Overmedicating: The Statistics

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS) reports on several troubling trends related to the overmedication of nursing home residents:

  • Too many nursing homes fail to comply with federal regulations designed to help prevent the overmedication of residents.
  • Too often, nursing home staff violate federal standards for unnecessary drug use when providing their residents with antipsychotic drugs.
  • Powerful antipsychotic drugs have dangerous side effects, and nursing homes are too quick to prescribe them for uses that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) hasn’t approved.
  • Eighty-eight percent (85%) of nursing home prescriptions for antipsychotic drugs are for patients with dementia. The FDA warns that this population faces an increased risk of death from these medications. (Some drug companies even shamelessly market these contraindicated prescriptions to this population.)

These observations indicate a general tendency in some nursing homes to overmedicate their residents.

If your elderly loved one suffered a nursing home injury caused by overmedication, it can overwhelm everyone in your family. However, you are not alone—and help is available.

At the Hughey Law Firm in Charleston, our dedicated legal team empathizes with what you’re going through, and we have the compassion, commitment, and experience to fight for your loved one’s rights and just compensation.

Why Some Nursing Homes Overmedicate

Nursing Home Overmedication Abuse Lawyers in Charleston, SC

Nursing homes are in the business of caring for the elderly, who naturally have more extensive healthcare needs than do younger populations.

Some understaffed nursing homes, however, resort to overmedicating those residents who require more extensive one-on-one care—residents who exhibit aggressive, overly emotional, or uncooperative behaviors.

The overuse of antipsychotics, tranquilizers, and other medications to sedate patients is sometimes implemented as a kind of band-aid approach to help keep things running smoothly with too few staff members. 

Nursing homes should never subject residents to the inhumane treatment of control for convenience or by intentional overmedication to sedate people trying to live out the rest of their days as pleasant as possible.

Federal Laws

The rights of nursing home residents are overseen by federal laws, which allow each resident specific protections:

  • Protection from discrimination;
  • Protection from abuse and neglect;
  • Protection from restraints;
  • The right to dignified and respectful treatment;
  • The right to medical care (including appropriate medications and dosages); and
  • The right to both privacy and personal visitors.

The federal protection against restraints and the right to appropriate medical care addresses the issue of overmedication in nursing homes.

Nursing Home Regulations in South Carolina

The law in South Carolina stipulates that only a physician can order the physical or chemical restraint of a nursing home resident.

In other words, your elderly relative should receive no medication unless a physician deems it necessary to promote good health.

It’s considered to be the best nursing-home practice to work closely with nursing home residents’ families when preparing those residents’ healthcare plans, which include medical care and medications.

As an integral part of your loved one’s life, you have a good deal to contribute regarding how best to care for and keep your loved one safe and healthy—which should never include overmedication.

Freedom From Chemical Restraints

Much like physical restraints, chemical restraints are drugs that medically restrain a person, and they are sometimes used for either the convenience of the nursing home or to punish a resident—both of which the state and federal government ban.

Federal law restricts nursing homes from ever using chemical restraints—unless they are medically necessary for a resident’s health. They’re never appropriate as a method for making the staff’s jobs more convenient or for punishing a resident.

Furthermore, a resident may refuse chemical restraints unless that resident is at risk of self-harm or of harming someone else.

Signs of Overmedication

While many types of senior care abuse and negligence lead to physical signs, overmedication may not.

The HHS reports that overdosing on medication is a problem in our nursing care facilities, so you must remain alert to it. The American Health Care Association shares several potential signs of using drugs to medicate residents:

  • Your loved one exhibits signs of unusual drowsiness
  • Your loved one exhibits signs of physical complications associated with overmedication—such as dry mouth or ulcers
  • Your loved one exhibits signs of unusual confusion or dizziness (including falling)
  • Your loved one experiences atypical hallucinations
  • Your loved one unexpectedly suffers a fracture or experiences seizures

Overmedication could cause any of these situations. If you’re worried about a nursing facility overmedicating your loved one, speak with the nursing home director to voice your concerns and go over your options.

A well-managed and well-run facility will take your comments seriously and will work with you to ensure that your relative gets the quality care and services that every nursing home resident is entitled to and deserves.

If Your Elderly Relative Has Suffered a Nursing Home Injury, Consult a Charleston Personal Injury Lawyer

If your loved one was overmedicated by a nursing home and injured as a result, you are no doubt overwhelmed. You made the difficult decision to place your elderly relative in a nursing home that could provide quality care, social interaction, and necessary medical treatments.

If your relative was injured by overmedication, call the Hughey Law Firm in Charleston, South Carolina. We’re here to help.

Our experienced nursing home abuse attorneys have the skill, compassion, and dedication to fight for your loved one’s just compensation.

Please call us for a free consultation at 843-881-8644 or contact us online to speak with an attorney today.