August 15, 2011
A recent article in the California newspaper Ventura County Star tried to make a case for overmedicating patients in nursing homes being a non-issue. However, a follow-up Letter to the Editor by a California licensed nursing home administrator gave the opinion that psychoactive drugs can rob an elderly person of a sense of awareness and even increase the risk of death.
The original article argued that drugs as a form of chemical restraint on nursing home residents is not an issue. Furthermore, the author argued that getting informed consent before giving patients these drugs is often difficult because family may not be available and the patients may be too sick to understand informed consent.
The author of the Letter to the Editor argues that informed consent is not difficult to obtain; rather doctors may simply feel uncomfortable explaining the risks, benefits, and alternatives of psychoactive drugs. The author says inconvenience to the physician isn’t a valid excuse for not obtaining informed consent before psychoactive drugs are given to a patient.
Overmedicating or giving nursing home patients the wrong medication are indeed types of nursing home abuse. The consequences of these types of abuse can be detrimental to the patients’ health and can even lead to their death. We advise family of nursing home residents who are concerned about this or any other form of nursing home abuse to contact a nursing home abuse lawyer right away.