'We are sad to report that drugging elderly nursing home residents as a form of control is a rampant practice, although there has been a reduction in recent years. While some say the problem is due to understaffing, others point out that it would actually take more staff to care for a sedated patient.
“Given the dire consequences, it should be zero,” said attorney Kelly Bagby of the AARP foundation,
The AARP foundation has been campaigning against this type of abuse for years and is bolstered by a new report by Human Rights Watch. Residents are wrongly given drugs such as antipsychotics, bipolar medication and schizophrenia, that are used to treat serious mental illness. Furthermore, consent is not sought either from patient or guardians before the drugs are given.
Associated Press reports:
According to the latest data from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, known as CMS, the percentage of long-term nursing home residents being given antipsychotic drugs dropped from about 24 percent in late 2011 to under 16 percent last year. Decreases were reported in all 50 states, with the biggest in Tennessee, California and Arkansas.
Dr. Jerry Gurwitz, chief of geriatric medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, depicts the overall decrease as “one of the most dramatic changes I’ve seen in my career.” He wonders, however, if some nursing homes might be finding other medications that sedate their patients into passivity without drawing the same level of scrutiny as antipsychotics.
Advocacy groups — including the Washington-based Center for Medicare Advocacy and AARP Foundation Litigation — say even the lower rate of antipsychotic usage is excessive, given federal warnings that elderly people with dementia face a higher risk of death when treated with such drugs.
Read more: Nursing Homes Drug Patients With Antipsychotics To Sedate Them Into Docility