Is it legal for nursing homes to use an unprescribed medication to sedate patients?

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It is not legal for a caregiver to administer a prescription medication that has not been ordered by the patient’s physician. However, even if sedatives have been prescribed for a nursing home patient, they are often unnecessary or being used for the wrong reasons.

Over sedation in nursing homes isn’t just a problem in Pike County. According to the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Usage, over 21 percent of long-stay nursing home residents—or over 300,000 patients—are being given anti-psychotics to keep them sedated.

Illegal to Administer, Legal to Prescribe

  • Physicians are able to prescribe any medication they feel will help treat a patient. This includes medications that are intended to treat other purposes, but have side effects that may help a non-sufferer—also called off-label use.
  • Since the staff will often administer residents’ medications, is not uncommon for medicines to be “pooled” and given in a way that best accommodates the staff rather than the patients. Residents who complain of pain, start wandering, or become agitated may be given another resident’s medication to keep them calm. In many cases, patients are given anti-psychotic medications such as Risperdal to render them unconscious.

While many care facilities may see over sedation as a convenient solution to understaffing or caring for difficult patients, sedation increases the risk of health problems. Many elderly residents may suffer bedsores, infections, and even strokes as a result of overmedication in nursing homes—while many family members are never told that their loved ones are being drugged. 

Learn more about the practice of drugging elderly residents with Risperdal in the links on this page, or learn about the signs and symptoms of medication misuse in our free guide, Fighting Back Against Nursing Home Abuse: What Families Need to Know to Help Their Loved One.

Has Your Loved One Been Injured In A Nursing Home?

If you believe your loved one is being subjected to nursing home abuse you need to speak with an experienced Kentucky nursing home neglect attorney as soon as possible. Contact us online or call our office directly at 888.450.4456 to schedule a free consultation.

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