No. While many nursing home residents need medication, medication should only be used for a medical reason and as prescribed by a doctor. Medication should not be used to sedate patients to make the jobs of nursing home staff easier or to discipline a resident.
What Are Chemical Restraints?
Any medication that has a calming or disorienting effect that is not used as prescribed by a doctor to treat a diagnosed condition may be considered a chemical restraint. Some examples of chemical restraints include:
- Antipsychotic medications
- Mood-stabilizing drugs
Overmedication May Be Nursing Home Abuse
Using medication as a patient restraint is a frightening form of Kentucky nursing home abuse. Some nursing homes may “tranquilize” their patients with off-label doses of medication to keep them calm—even unconscious—and therefore easier to handle. Aside from being unethical, these off-label medications can cause many health problems for the patient. Nursing home residents who are overmedicated may experience:
- Hallucinations. Antipsychotic medications can cause confusion, dizziness, and delirium, making it more likely that elderly residents will suffer falls or hospitalization.
- Drug interactions. Many nursing home residents take multiple medications daily. These may easily interact with the off-label drug and cause a potentially fatal interaction.
- Wrongful death. If patients are being sedated frequently, the medication may cause their heart to slow down or even stop, leading to a devastating family loss.
Other adverse effects include memory loss, depression, withdrawal, increased dependence, and loss of mobility.
If you notice symptoms such as unexplained mood swings or changes in your loved one’s behavior, you might suspect the use of chemical restraints.
Preventing Overmedication of Nursing Home Residents
Nursing home staff often have challenging jobs, but chemical restraints are not the way to make those jobs easier. Overmedication may be avoided with:
- Sufficient staffing to allow attendants to adequately care for nursing home residents
- Staff training on the proper use of medication and how to handle challenging residents
Additionally, supervision and oversight may quickly identify any improper use of medication that could harm a nursing home resident.
What to Do If You Suspect Overmedication in a Kentucky Nursing Home
You have several options if you suspect that your loved one has been subjected to chemical restraint in a nursing home. You may:
- Speak with a nursing home administrator. Make sure to keep detailed notes about these meetings.
- File a complaint with the Commonwealth of Kentucky. The Kentucky Ombudsman may be able to help you.
- Call the police. If you think your loved one or another resident is in imminent danger, you can call the authorities.
- Contact a nursing home abuse lawyer. An attorney will take the time to carefully evaluate the details of the circumstances and determine if you have a legitimate claim worth pursuing.
Our experienced Kentucky nursing home abuse attorneys will find out precisely what happened to your loved one and fight for a full and fair recovery for your loved one or their survivors. Please contact us any time—24/7/365—to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation.