Mass. Nursing Homes Overuse Sedation on Unruly Seniors
The controversial practice of using sedation to control unruly nursing home residents is more pronounced in Massachusetts than nationally, revealed an investigation by the Boston Globe.
However, the state seldom takes action against nursing homes for unnecessarily medicating elderly residents with strong, anti-psychotic sedatives despite federal guidelines advising against such a practice. The Globe reports that the state cited only 27 Massachusetts nursing homes for unnecessary use of antipsychotics and none of the facilities was fined.
Sedation is also used for nursing home residents with dementia who behave aggressively, despite federal warnings about potential fatal side effects in such patients. Federal guidelines allow antipsychotics to be used in patients with severe mental illness and a handful of other conditions, according to the Globe.
Inspection reports obtained by the newspaper found that in the facilities cited by the state, some elderly nursing home residents were given antipsychotics for months without efforts to gradually move them off the medications, as required by federal law.
The Globe’s analysis of state inspection reports for facilities cited for unnecessary drug use from 2009 through 2011 found that 5 percent of all the unnecessary-medication cases merited a mandatory fine, but none of the antipsychotic cases fell into this category. Approximately 4 percent of nursing homes with above-median rates of unnecessary antipsychotic usage were reprimanded by state regulators in 2009. Two-thirds of the cases involved residents with dementia.
A new set of federal guidelines are being finalized to define how nursing homes must first try with agitated or combative residents before turning to antipsychotics, reports the Globe.
If you or a loved one has been harmed by nursing home abuse or negligence, contact Sokolove Law today for a free legal consultation and to find out if a nursing home abuse lawyer may be able to help you.