Saturday, February 11, 2017

Nursing Home Patients With Alzheimer's Drugged to Death

Despite strict government warnings and national initiatives cracking down on administering antipsychotic drugs to older people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementia, dangerous abuses persist. The practice is particularly pernicious when it occurs in nursing homes, behind closed doors, where the most vulnerable residents are rarely informed or allowed to give meaningful consent before being drugged.
The Center for Medicare Advocacy, a nonprofit law organization, recently issued an alert after analyzing the continued overuse of antipsychotics in nursing homes. It found that in 2016, more than 270,000 nursing home residents are still being liberally drugged with them even though the overwhelming majority of them have not been diagnosed with any type of psychosis. The Center decried it as elder abuse and “a national scandal.”

Nursing home residents are medicated in alarming degrees with alarming doses of anti-depressants, anti-anxieties, antipsychotics, sedatives, and hypnotics—all belonging to the family of “psychoactive” drugs, also called anti-psychotics, psychotropics, or psychotherapeutics. Whatever their label, they work on the brain in various ways to change a person’s mood, behavior, or personality. Most of them also decrease the level of consciousness, acting as a type of “chemical restraint.”

While there are justifiable and therapeutic uses for these drugs, particularly for individuals with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, they’re frequently misused and abused in nursing homes, where a majority of the residents are prescribed one or more of them, usually to calm those who are agitated or combative—and considered problematic patients.

But the powerful drugs, acting alone and in interaction with other drugs, have a long list of common side effects—including tremors, anxiety, confusion, insomnia, immobility, delirium, kidney and heart failure, and violent behavior. Another common effect, oversedation, often greatly increases the risks of falls and fractures. And in some people, those diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia, psychoactive drugs can even cause death.

Ignoring the Warnings
The risk is so real that in 2005, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued warnings to prescribers and distributors and then imprinted the drugs with one of its rare black box warnings.

It states:
*Elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis treated with conventional or atypical antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death.
*Antipsychotic drugs are not approved for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis.

Furthermore, there is no approved drug for the treatment of dementia-related psychosis. Healthcare professionals should consider other management options.

Perversely, however, the use of such drugs in care facilities actually increased after the FDA’s dire warning.

Full Article and Source:
Nursing Home Residents With Alzheimer's Drugged to Death

4 comments:

Steve said...

I bet this happens much more than we think.

Selena said...

I believe it happens all the time and not just to Alzheimers patients.

Leslie Geffen said...

This happened to our dad, and he didn't have any behavior problems, but he was on a cocktail of three psychotropic drugs for over a year. Our dad's "friend" was tragically made the POA, and he immediately blocked us from getting any information about our father as soon as he was diagnosed with dementia and locked up. He got a lawyer, (paid for from our father's money), and the lawyer and POA forbade the entire facility and health care staff to interact with us. We were forced to get an attorney. This went on for a year before we finally got "permission" to talk to the health care staff. Once we discovered what he was on, we advocated to have the drugs eliminated. The nurse manager agreed with us, and over an 8 month period, they reduced and eliminated the drugs, none of which he needed. He is 87, with advanced dementia, but now he's much stronger, more alert, more interactive, he went from a frail 120 pounds to 130 pounds. He is loving, kind, grateful, and sweet, and respectful to all who care for him at the facility. This drug pushing is tragic. This report is spot on, he was forced to take things, as mentioned in the article,that had that exact black box warning from the FDA. Unconscionable.

Gretch said...

Has happened to my dad numerous times. Fountain Valley Regional Hospital even put him in restraints while drugged. He is a very cooperative man, so drugging and restraints were unnecessary. He has a reindeer fidget toy. When he has the cuddly toy, he is soothed. We kept finding it thrown on a chair in the room. The drugging is not put in the chart, but checking his eyes is very telling.