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Drugs used to restrain nursing home residents

According to a report issued by Human Rights Watch, nursing home residents in Kentucky and the rest of the country who have dementia are given antipsychotic drugs on a regular basis so that they are more easily managed. This is in direct contradiction to nursing home regulations that prohibits the use of drugs as chemical restraints. It is also despite the fact that antipsychotic drug use is linked to a higher risk of death in dementia sufferers.

Information for the report was obtained from visits researchers made to over 100 nursing homes. The report estimates that over 179,000 older individuals in nursing homes in the United States are administered antipsychotic drugs every week without being properly diagnosed. In many instances, the drugs are administered without the informed consent of the nursing home residents or their families.

Vulnerable residents are provided little protection from the government, as they are sedated so that the overworked personnel at nursing homes are able to better cope. The use of antipsychotic drugs is often justified with the assertion that the residents are exhibiting disruptive behavior that has to be managed, when in fact they are exhibiting expressions of distress or pain.

Nursing home personnel who use antipsychotic drugs as a way to chemically restrain a resident are in violation of federal regulations and can be charged under international human rights law with the inhuman, degrading or cruel treatment of another person. However, it is rare when nursing homes are punished when they have been found to be in violation of the regulations. An attorney may pursue financial damages on behalf of victims of nursing home neglect. In addition to overmedication, other forms of negligence could include a failure to prevent falls.

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