A concerning study released this month by the watchdog group Human Rights Watch has highlighted the troubling trend of nursing homes over-prescribing antipsychotic drugs to residents with dementia. The report claims that these nursing homes are prescribing drugs without a proper diagnosis in an attempt to keep residents docile. This trend is cause for concern for nursing home residents across New York and the rest of the country.

According to the 157-page report, approximately 179,000 nursing home residents are prescribed antipsychotic drugs without an appropriate diagnosis each week. The study indicates that these prescriptions are often occurring without informed consent from the residents or their legal guardians despite rules against nursing homes using prescription medication as chemical restraints” in an attempt to control an unruly patient. This trend is especially concerning given that the risk of death nearly doubles in cases where nursing home residents are prescribed antipsychotic drugs.”

Punishment for this type of behavior has been limited despite the rules that are in place to prevent using these drugs as chemical restraints. While the use of antipsychotic medication has declined over the last three years, the use of these drugs remains widespread. Approximately 16 percent of all American nursing home residents are given these drugs without proper diagnosis according to the Human Rights Watch study.

Prescription of antipsychotic drugs without a proper diagnosis can be harmful to nursing home residents. These drugs can greatly impact a resident’s quality of life and even be harmful to the health and well-being of that resident. A nursing home resident who has been wrongfully prescribed antipsychotic drugs may have a claim for damages against the nursing home. An attorney with experience in medical malpractice and nursing home neglect law may help clients review treatment and medical records to determine if any drugs were improperly administered. An attorney may also be able to negotiate a settlement with the nursing home for damages on behalf of the resident.