People in California may have seen a recent article about a woman who entered a Ventura nursing home after she broke her pelvis. After only 18 days in the nursing home, she was released into the care of her loved ones, but something was clearly wrong. She was exhibiting frightening behaviors, and clearly wasn't herself. She was slumped in her wheelchair, seemed confused and unable to speak clearly. Only a few weeks later, the woman died, leaving her family to face the difficult question of exactly what happened to her during those 18 days in the nursing home.
The answer was shocking, and unfortunately, part of a major health crisis taking place in nursing homes all over the country. It turns out the woman had been subjected to numerous powerful antipsychotic medications by the medical professionals in the nursing home, to the point that she was completely unable to function normally. These drugs were administered illegally and without her consent, and the nursing home apparently used even more drugs to counteract the side effects of other previously administered drugs.
The family of the woman joined a class action suit earlier this year, alleging that the nursing home negligently and illegally treated her with antipsychotic drugs without anyone's consent. The nursing home agreed to settle out of court in this case, but unfortunately there are thousands of victims and families around the country who have yet to get the relief they need.
It is estimated that one out of every five nursing home patients is treated with unnecessary and dangerous antipsychotic drugs, making this one of the most horrible nursing home neglect epidemics in history. People who have concerns about loved ones in nursing homes should make sure they understand their legal rights.
Source: AARP, "Drug Abuse: Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes," Jan Goodwin, July 30, 2014