Anti-psychotic drugs are used in the treatment of schizophrenia and related psychoses, severe anxiety, agitation, dangerous, or violently impulsive behavior and other mental health conditions. They are also used in the treatment of other conditions like vomiting and nausea, pain management and related restlessness whilst in palliative care and continuous hiccoughs.

By the Numbers

Recent studies suggest that anti-psychotic drugs are often overused in nursing homes as a type of “chemical restraint”, to control agitation and combative behavior in patients for whom the drugs have not been recommended. The report goes on to reveal some alarming statistics:

In 2010 at least 25 percent of residents in U.S. nursing homes received anti-psychotic medication, even though they suffered from no illness or condition for which these drugs were necessary.

There existed a clear link between staffing levels in nursing homes and the use of anti-psychotic medication. Facilities with lower staffing levels in general used more anti-psychotic drugs when not prescribed.

Anti-psychotic drugs were used more often in nursing homes where residents were deemed to have behavioral problems, according to the nurses and staff, like resisting care, wandering or being abusive to staff, both physically and verbally.

Lack of Time or Care

Anti-psychotic drugs are strong sedatives which are potentially harmful when used wrongly or in excess. Side effects in elderly individuals could result in cardiovascular complications and heighten the risk from infections. They can also cause blurred vision, dizziness, and a sudden blood pressure drop. Any of these could result in falls and fall-related injuries. Anti-psychotic drugs are overused in nursing homes because the staff does not have time to investigate the cause of an individual’s behavioral problems. Most of the time it is a funding issue; it is also difficult to work in an environment such as this.

Open Your Own Investigation

If you feel a loved nursing home resident is being administered unnecessary or excessive anti-psychotic medication is being deployed you could ask for the list of medications being used with their dosage. An Internet search will enlighten you about the reasons for using the drug and the recommended dosage.

Make the Call

If you believe your loved one has suffered injury because of prolonged usage of anti-psychotic drugs then contact a nursing home attorney to explore the possibility of filing a claim for damages for medical malpractice under the category of injury law.