Chemical Restraints Used in California Nursing Home
Nursing home residents at Lake Isabella nursing home in Bakersfield, California, are being over-prescribed drugs that may have life-threatening side effects for the elderly.
The anti-psychotic drugs Zyprexa, Risperdal, and Seroquel were being given to nursing home residents with behavioral issues. These drugs carry the Federal Drug Administration’s (FDA’s) strongest black-box warning because they can cause sudden death in elderly residents.
Pitman, Kalkhoff, Sicula & Dentice, S.C. is a Wisconsin law firm with a devoted nursing home neglect practice. Our nursing home abuse and neglect trial team has successfully represented abused and neglected residents in almost every county.
Dr. Kathyrn Locatell, a geriatric physician who specializes in forensic investigation of elder abuse, helped the California Attorney Generals office investigate the Kern Valley Healthcare Districts skilled nursing facility.
The attorney generals office says that at least 22 residents were over-medicated at the facility to calm and control them. Three residents are believed to have died as a result. The investigation resulted in the arrest Wednesday of a physician, a nursing supervisor and a pharmacist.
The side effects associated with these drugs include constipation, risk of falling and difficulty swallowing. These side effects may lead to dehydration, weight loss and other life-threatening problems.
Locatell discussed the trend of using anti-psychotic drugs to manage patient behaviors,
“Doctors are just giving it out like candy and nurses are administering it without any knowledge of what to look for and they are being prescribed for behavioral problems like resisting care.”
“Its like they are being drugged to quell the behavior instead of someone investigating why the behaviors are happening and coming up with a more humane approach.”
Locatell mentioned that national statistics show about 50 percent of nursing home residents are on some form of psychotropic medication with another 30% of residents on anti-psychotics. Anti-psychotics are a class of psychotropic drugs designed to treat serious mental illness and and that the use of these psychotropic drugs should raise concerns for loved ones.
The use of chemical restraints in elder-care facilities is unethical and, without consent of the individual or a power of attorney, illegal.