One of my top five pieces of advice to family members who have loved ones in a long term care facility (a nursing home, residential care facility for the elderly, or board and care) is the following: question facilities who prescribe or administer anti-psychotic medications for alleged behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. Why? Because the therapeutic goal for the use of anti-psychotic medications is to treat patients who present an imminent threat of harm to self or others. Anti-psychotic drugs are not designed to treat non-specific symptoms such as agitation, anxiety, “combativeness” or wandering. Instead, an assessment should be made by a physician to look for and identify the underlying cause of the behavior/symptom. For example, pain or environmental factors such as noise may be causing a resident to exhibit behavior characterized as “agitation.” Only after an assessment of other potential causes of behavioral or psychological symptoms of dementia have been considered, and after weighing the significant risks against the potential benefits of anti-psychotic medications, should psychotropic drugs be considered.
And remember, the physician and facility must always ensure that a resident or his or her responsible family member gave informed consent before administering anti-psychotic medications.
York Law Firm is comprised of Sacramento based lawyers that handle elder abuse and wrongful death cases. If you believe your loved one has been the victim of elder abuse or neglect in a nursing home or assisted living facility, or believe your family has a wrongful death claim, please call our office so that we can investigate your case at 916-643-2200 or contact us online. We are dedicated to representing families whose elders and dependent adults who have been injured, neglected or abused in any way, including unnecessary chemical restraints of those in nursing home residents.