Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Compromised Care in IL Nursing Homes

Frail and vulnerable residents of nursing homes throughout Illinois are being dosed with powerful psychotropic drugs, leading to tremors, dangerous lethargy and a higher risk of harmful falls or even death, a Tribune investigation has found.

Thousands of elderly and disabled people have been affected, many of them drugged without their consent or without a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis that would justify treatment, state and federal inspection reports show.

In all, the Tribune identified 1,200 violations at Illinois nursing homes involving psychotropic medications since 2001. Those infractions affected 2,900 patients.

The actual numbers are likely far higher because regulators inspect some facilities just once every 15 months, and even then they usually check only a small sample of residents for harm.

The Tribune's unprecedented review of more than 40,000 state and federal inspection reports found that nursing homes ranging from "five-star" establishments on the North Shore to run-down facilities in urban neighborhoods have been cited for improperly administering psychotropic drugs.

The paper's review took into account violations for "chemical restraint" and "unnecessary drugs" as well as cases involving dosages that exceeded safety standards or falls in which psychotropics possibly played a role.

While some nursing home residents suffer from major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, the inspection reports show that many patients harmed by antipsychotic drugs had not been diagnosed with psychosis. They were disabled by Alzheimer's disease, cancer or Parkinson's disease. Some were blind or so frail that they could not breathe without the aid of an oxygen tank.

The findings come at a difficult time for Illinois nursing homes, which are already under fire for housing violent felons alongside geriatric patients and for failing to accurately assess the risk posed by the most serious offenders.

The misuse of psychotropics, which some experts say is a nationwide problem in nursing homes, suggests a troubling future for many seniors.

Full Article and Source:
Compromised Care: Psychotropic Drugs Given to Nursing Home Patients Without Cause


Anonymous said...

This is an on-going problem in nursing homes everywhere. I think care is compromised in almost all nursing homes - and the drugging just enables it.

Sue said...

Investigative Reporter Sam Roe from the Chicago Tribune entered a snake pit with so much more, the needless drugging of our loved ones for the convenience and profit of others; leaving the complainants no where to complain.

Our beloved family member with significant assets (due to hard work and sacrifice) died a pauper, died enduring a horrible painful death in a Chicago area Illinois Nursing home from psychotropic medications: SERPQUEL (I have the consent form her records which was signed by the temporary guardian before the resident was in the assigned stipped down medicare room sentenced to: death) dehyration and starvation without any comfort care or a place to lay down and die.

At 87 pounds, left afraid and blind, to die in a wheelchair pleading and silently screaming for a sip of water grabbing at my hands to help when my voice was recognized.

I tried to help but got caught; I was told by nursing home staff "what are you doing - STOP" when I was giving sips of water.

I was told I better cooperate or I would have to leave.

I was ordered only give a few drops of water on the tongue from a tiny useless dispenser and wait for an hour to give a few drops.

This was cruel, toruture of a human being a person I knew from the date of my birth; a person I truly loved for decades all at the instructions of temporary guardian who wanted the problem the ward dead and out of the way asap; the ward passed away, impoverished, in less than 60 days from being declared a ward of the state only one day away from applying for Medicaid.

I could write volumes but I cannot describe any further although years have past but thoughts of that abusive guardianship and the players in the nursing home and their staff physician bring back all the feelings, sorrow and pain that never goes away.

At this time of giving thanks, I am thankful for NASGA.

Barbara said...

This is how nursing homes turn our loved ones into zombies.

Anonymous said...

drugged into silence and submission

StandUp said...

Nursing home "care" articles are on the rise. I hope the tidal wave call for reform builds from state to state.

Tami said...

That's so sad Sue. I'm so very sorry.

The second day I met the guy that later became the guardian for the Senior gentleman that used to be in my care - he got a phone call (when he was visiting us). It was from a nursing home asking (pleading) with him to give their patient food and water. He said no, hung up the phone and started complaining to me about how the nursing home keeps calling him (every hour or half hour, I can't remember now). The guardian was perturbed by the constant "harassment" from the nursing home. He went to court and got an order to put the poor soul out of it's misery. "It's the humane thing to do" - he said. I shuddered and now I cringe because this guardian is taking care of someone I love.

I'm not trying to excuse the nursing home either because they should have comforted your loved one. I AM saying there is another side to this and if they're given an order, they have to follow it. I sat right next to a guardian when he got that nursing home call so I know first hand that "some" try to help. "Some" can't stand what they're doing.

What I find a real pity is that Sam Roe didn't name names. What doctor? What guardian? Is it the same one? Who's being negligent? I'd like to know - I think WE ALL would like to know - except the guardians, doctors and nursing homes.

Anonymous said...

Think of the money big pharma is making off of this as well.

Betty said...

Way to go, Illinois. Get out the bright lights and show the world what's really going on in nursing homes.

Thank you, Nasga, for this article.