If your parent suffers from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease or another condition that progressively debilitates his or her mind and body, (s)he probably lives in an  Oregon nursing home. You likely made the painful decision to place him or her there because you believed that this is where (s)he would get the best possible care. Unfortunately, the nursing home may be betraying both you and your parent. Rather than giving him or her the compassionate care (s)he needs, staff may instead be chemically restraining him or her.

Per an investigation of over 15,000 nursing homes across the country done by Human Rights Watch, the horrifying results showed that nearly 30% of them admitted dosing their dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patients with antipsychotic drugs such as the following:

  • Haloperidol
  • Seroquel
  • Risperidone

Chemical restraints

Worse yet, no doctor had ever prescribed any antipsychotic drug for these patients. In addition, the nursing homes never told the patients or their families that they were administering these drugs. Furthermore, the Food and Drug Administration bans the use of antipsychotic drugs in patients suffering from dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.

The staffs of many of the nursing homes engaged in this illegal practice admitted that the entire surreptitious practice was done for no other purpose than to control these patients and make them easier to manage. Once the results of the investigation became public, elder rights advocates dubbed this practice chemical restraint and called for its immediate halt.

Governmental failures

One of the mandates of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is to oversee compliance with the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 which puts many protections in place against nursing home abuse. The CMMS, however, has failed to properly carry out its duties.

For instance, the CMMS issued only 7,029 citations during a recent four-year period to nursing homes nationwide that engaged in the illegal practice of administering unauthorized drugs to their patients. Of those, the CMMS then collected only 3% of the supposedly mandatory fines attached to these abuses. It excused its actions by stating that the other 97% of the patients so dosed suffered “no actual harm.” To further put nursing home patients at risk, the CMMS also placed a moratorium on the FDA ban of antipsychotic drug usage for dementia and Alzheimer’s disease patients.

With chemical restraint practices common throughout the nursing home system, you need to remain vigilant with regard to the medications your parent receives. Talk to his or her doctor and make sure you know exactly what nursing home personnel are giving your parent and why.

This is general educational information and not intended to provide legal advice.