A recent report from the Long-Term Care Community Coalition (LTCCC) is sending shockwaves throughout the nursing home community. As reported in Skilled Nursing News, nursing homes continue to use antipsychotic drugs to chemically restrain their residents—a clear violation of patient rights.
If you have a loved one in a nursing home or other long-term care facility, you are probably thinking about whether or not they are being chemically restrained. At DC Law, we are here to help.
Has Progress Been Made?
Nursing home abuse of antipsychotic drugs has been in the spotlight for several years now. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), for example, first investigated the issue in 2011, finding that use of chemical restraint was too high. CMS set benchmarks for reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs by 15%–which the agency has claimed was met. In fact, CMS has applauded the nursing home industry for reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs by 34% between 2011 and 2017.
One reason the LTCCC report is so shocking is that it flies in the face of the rosy picture painted by CMS. Looking at national data, LTCCC found that neither the federal government nor states have enforced laws on the books prohibiting the use of antipsychotic drugs as a chemical restraint. Instead, the citation rate was a measly 0.31%–next to nothing.
The LTCCC report comes on the heels of a report from Human Rights Watch that estimated almost 180,000 Americans in nursing homes received antipsychotic drugs inappropriately. The skilled nursing community has criticized both reports, but the overall picture is clear—too many seniors are receiving drugs inappropriately.
Protecting Your Loved One
If an elderly family member has been restrained through the administration of antipsychotic drugs, you may not be aware that they are. However, you should be on the lookout for red flags. For example, pay attention to whether your loved one is lethargic or unresponsive when you visit, especially if they have been responsive before.
You can also ask to see what drugs your loved one has been given. Of course, nurses and others might not put that information down in the file, so other investigation might be required.
When a person is given medication against their will, they have suffered a battery and can be compensated. At DC Law, we have experience holding nursing homes and other long-term care facilities responsible for their mistakes, including giving unnecessary drugs. Compensation for your loved one can include:
- Medical bills to help treat any physical injury they have suffered
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
Because the nursing home deliberately harmed your loved one, punitive damages might also be available. Punitive damages, which are designed to punish a defendant for outrageous conduct, are in addition to any compensatory damages listed above.
Speak to a Nursing Home Lawyer in Austin
Nursing homes may betray your trust when they issue antipsychotic drugs to chemically restrain your loved ones. Fortunately, help is available. At the DC Law in Austin, we can hold nursing homes accountable. Call us today to schedule your free consultation, 512-220-1800.