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How Dangerous Are Antipsychotics to Nursing Home Patients?

April 7, 2015

It is of incredible importance for medical professionals at nursing homes to exercise proper care when deciding what sorts of medications to give to residents. This is because some medications have some serious side effects and dangers associated with them. One would hope medical professionals would only prescribe a nursing home resident such medications when it is appropriate for the resident’s given condition.

Among the drugs that have dangers associated with them are antipsychotics. Recently, a study reached some worrisome findings regarding this class of drug.

The study reviewed medical data regarding around 91,000 elderly veterans with dementia. Among the things, the study’s researchers looked at were the type of medications these individuals took and the occurrence rate of premature death among these individuals.

The study found that the individuals who were on antipsychotics had a higher likelihood of premature death. The study further found that, when it came to newer antipsychotics, the higher the dose, the higher the recipient’s premature death likelihood increase was.

The study’s findings indicate that the premature death risks associated with antipsychotic drugs when it comes to individuals with dementia may be greater than was previously believed to be the case.

One of the things that makes these findings so alarming is that antipsychotic drugs are a fairly common medication at nursing homes. Such medications are sometimes used to treat some of the symptoms dementia sufferers can show, such as aggression, agitation, hallucinations, and delusions. The federal government estimates that, in 2012, antipsychotics were prescribed to around a third of elderly dementia sufferers who were long-term residents of nursing homes.

Do you think antipsychotic medications are being used too often in nursing homes? Do you think medical professionals at nursing homes, by and large, are properly taking into account the dangers of antipsychotics when deciding whether to prescribe such medications to residents with dementia? Do you think there should be stricter rules regarding the circumstances under which antipsychotics can be used at nursing homes?

One thing a family member of a nursing home resident might wonder when they are concerned that the nursing home may not have acted properly when prescribing their loved one medication, such as an antipsychotic, is: What options are available to try to address the situation? Elder law attorneys can help such individuals get an idea of what their specific legal position is and what options they may have.