Illinois Nursing Homes May Be Misusing Psychotropic Drugs On Patients

Illinois nursing home residents are routinely given psychotropic drugs such as anti psychotics, anti-anxiety and antidepressants to control their behavior – even when they aren't needed, according to a recent investigation by the Chicago Tribune. In fact, it reports that there have been 1,200 violations of improper administration of drugs in the past eight years affecting almost 3,000 residents. So, what can you do if this happens to your loved one?

Uncovering psychotropic drug misuse

The analysis was based on the Chicago Tribune's own review of more than 40,000 state and federal inspection reports. It found 1,200 nursing home violations since 2001 which have affected 3,000 residents and led to at least 12 deaths. The Tribune's findings seem to mirror the U.S. Food & Drug Administration's (FDA) research as well – which has reported that thousands of nursing home patients die every year because they are given anti psychotic drugs even though they are not mentally ill.

Although federal law requires nursing homes to obtain consent from a doctor, the patient and provide justification for administering the drug, those laws are often violated and cause thousands of nursing home injuries and deaths – many of which involve senior citizens.

Too many nursing home violations

The Tribune analyzed nearly 750 nursing home inspection reports from the Illinois Department of Public Health and found that nearly two thirds had been sited for wrongly administrating anti psychotic drugs at one time or another. Some of the facilities violated the law continually – leaving patients at a greater risk of injury or death.

What can you do?

What can you do to avoid this from happening to your loved one? Here are some tips:

  • Seek advice. Get advice on choosing the right nursing home or assisted living facility from those who have been in your situation, internet blogs or government agencies.
  • Don't be fooled by appearance. Many nursing home facilities may look respectable at first glance. However, don't be fooled by appearance as many of the “nicer” looking facilities in the Tribune's report had received just as many violations as those that weren't as polished. The U.S. Office of Health & Human Service's Medicare website allows you to find and compare nursing homes in your area.
  • Be conscious of elder abuse. Once you've chosen a facility, be conscious of recognizing different types of elder abuse such as physical, emotional and sexual abuse as well as neglect and financial exploitation. If you recognize any of these, bring it to the attention of nursing home's director immediately.
  • Contact an attorney. Contact an experienced nursing home abuse attorney whenever you feel as though your loved one may have been abused and you can't resolve the matter with nursing home staff.