A recent investigation completed by the nonprofit Human Rights Watch (HRW) shows that many elderly dementia patients living in nursing homes in the United States may be being placed on psychotropic drugs without receiving their prior consent.
The practice of sedating a patient with psychotropic drugs has been widely done since at least the 1970s in the U.S. It's been criticized for just as long as well.
One of the first recorded discussions of the topic in recent times was in 1975 when the U.S. Senate released a report in which in chronicled the misuse of psychotropic drugs, passing the cost on to residents and getting kickbacks from drug companies for administering them. HRW contends that they found that not much has changed on this end.
Many manufacturers of these drugs have been held both criminally and civilly liable for mislabeling drugs as appropriate for dementia when they're really not. These drugs have also been pulled off the market so that they could have a "black box warning" placed on them.
In some cases, these have been found to carry double the risk of death of what had originally been advertised. The manufacturers have also been forced to admit that the drugs are ineffective for dementia.
Although drug manufacturers have been brought more into compliance, HRW's investigators found that nursing homes continue to administer these drugs for unrelated purposes. Most do so without obtaining patient consent first despite being required to do so under federal law.
HRW's current estimate is that as many as 179,000 elderly Americans living in nursing homes are being forced to take psychotropic drugs without their consent and without first being diagnosed with a condition that warrants taking it.
These residents are often sedated before staff interact with them to give them a bath. Research that has been previously conducted on the side effects of giving patients the wrong or dangerous drugs has shown that they can cause hallucinations, depression, slow breathing or heart rates and result in many other life-threatening conditions.
Pharmacists, doctors, nurses and other caregivers who incorrectly administer medications can be held civilly liable for any injuries or deaths that result from their negligence. Proving such a case isn't always easy. Having a Tucson nursing home abuse & neglect attorney who understands the medical system aid you in building your case can greatly impact your ability to receive compensation.