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Increased Nursing Home Abuse: Fake Diagnoses for Antipsychotic Drugs

Increased Nursing Home Abuse: Fake Diagnoses for Antipsychotic Drugs

Nursing homes in New York, and throughout the entire country, have long been criticized for their use of antipsychotic drugs on the patients in their care. These drugs are very dangerous for many elderly individuals and nursing homes typically use them to make it easier to deal with residents they deem difficult. A recent report in the New York Times shows just how these drugs are used, and the frequency in which fake diagnoses are made, in order to continue the use of this type of medication.

Antipsychotic drugs and fake diagnoses are extremely harmful for nursing home residents and they can suffer many injuries as a result. If you have a loved one in a nursing home and suspect that they are being given drugs unnecessarily, our New York City nursing home abuse lawyers can help you claim the damages your family deserves.

Why are Antipsychotic Drugs So Dangerous for Nursing Home Residents?

The recent article in the New York Times highlighted just how many nursing home residents are being given antipsychotic drugs. According to the report, 21 percent of nursing home patients throughout the country are currently being given antipsychotic drugs.

The drugs have serious health ramifications for nursing home residents. The overuse of these drugs can lead to infections, heart failure, slip and falls, and other accidents that result in serious injuries. Antipsychotic drugs are also often used to subdue patients and leave them heavily sedated, usually in their bed or in a wheelchair.

When patients are left in one position for too long, they are also at risk of developing bedsores, which are particularly troublesome for nursing home residents. Patients with dementia who are given antipsychotic drugs such as Haldol are twice as likely to die from pneumonia, cardiac problems, and other serious health problems.

A story came out of South Carolina about a man who was 63 years old and who was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia when there was nothing to indicate he suffered from the disease. For eight months the man was sedated around the clock and he suffered from severe weight loss, pneumonia, and bedsores that had advanced to such a serious stage, his foot had to be amputated. Sadly, this is just one story of how nursing home residents suffer from antipsychotic drugs.

Why Do Nursing Homes Overprescribe Antipsychotic Drugs?

Nursing homes are notoriously understaffed, so there are often not enough employees in these facilities to properly care for all of their residents. Instead of hiring more staff members, some facilities use antipsychotic drugs to sedate their residents. When patients are sedated, they appear to not have the same needs as residents that are not under sedation. Sadly though, they likely have many more needs and are being harmed from the drugs.

Antipsychotic drugs are largely used in nursing homes because these facilities prioritize their own profits over the safety of their residents. The overuse of drugs is just one way in which nursing homes place their profits over the safety of their residents, and it is always wrong.

Why Do Nursing Homes Give Fake Diagnoses?

The government is well aware that nursing homes use antipsychotic drugs to subdue difficult residents, which is why they have put safeguards in place to try and prevent it from happening. The Medicare Compare website lists a number of nursing home facilities, and gives them a rating. The lower the rating, the worse the image of the facility; nursing homes strive to get the highest rating possible. Lower ratings also come with fewer residents and so, fewer profits for the facility, as well.

The use of antipsychotic drugs is one of the many factors that contribute to the rating a nursing home facility may receive on the Medicare Compare website. Although that may reassure some looking for a nursing home that a facility with a good rating does not use antipsychotic drugs on their patients, that is not necessarily the case. Unfortunately, these ratings are not as reliable as they may seem.

This is because residents with specific health issues, most notably schizophrenia, are not disclosed publicly, meaning they are also not part of the rating or any other data a person may see when researching different facilities. According to a report drafted by Medicare, the number of nursing home patients diagnosed with schizophrenia has increased by an alarming 70 percent since 2012. To put that in perspective, that is approximately one in nine nursing home patients.

The problem with this is that elders do not simply wake up one day with schizophrenia. The condition is usually diagnosed by the time a person reaches the age of 40. However, nursing home administrators and staff members know that their use of antipsychotic drugs on certain residents will go unnoticed if they diagnose that patient with schizophrenia, even when the patient does not suffer from the condition. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services stated in a federal oversight agency report in 2018 that nearly one-third of nursing home patients diagnosed with schizophrenia do not have any previous records or diagnoses of the illness.

Creating fake diagnoses just to administer antipsychotic drugs is not only negligent, it is nursing home abuse. In fact, the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing home patients has been given the term “chemical straight jackets” because they essentially immobilize a person. Anyone that has been harmed through the use of these types of drugs should speak to a New York City nursing home abuse lawyer that can help you claim financial compensation for your loved one’s injuries.

Call Our Nursing Home Abuse Lawyers in New York City Today

If you have learned that your loved one has been the victim of a fake diagnosis and the use of antipsychotic drugs, our New York City nursing home abuse lawyers are here to help you through this difficult time. At Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C., our skilled attorneys are dedicated to helping victims of nursing home abuse obtain the maximum damages they need to recover from their injuries. Call us today at 1-877-ASK4SAM or contact us online to request a free consultation.