When hearing about Illinois medical malpractice, most people righty conjure images of mistakes made in hospitals. However, errors made by medical professionals can occur wherever heathcare is needed, including in nursing homes. One of the most rampant ways that poor medical care is administered at these homes is through the misuse of antipsychotic drugs. The use of these pharmaceuticals often creates a large, unnecessary risk when given to certain elderly residents in nursing homes. In fact, drugs like Seroquel, Risperdal, and Zyprexa come with a specific black box warning that they may increase the risk of death in dementia patients when used for “off-label” reasons. Yet far too many facilities continue to use the drugs in that way.
Yesterday Trial News explained the results of an investigation into the use of atypical antipsychotic drugs in the nursing home context. “Atypical” drugs refer to a newer type of medication, also known as “second generation” pharmaceuticals. Federal investigators at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) conducted an analysis of the use of these drugs by examining Medicare reimbursement claims. The study found that 76 percent of claims for these atypical drugs were for off-label conditions and were given to dementia patients. This was true regardless of the fact that the drugs carry the specific warning that they not be given to patients with dementia. As blog readers know, these drug mistakes constitute one of the most egregious forms of Illinois medical malpractice .
The General Inspector of the HHS explained his anger at hearing of the results. He said, “Government, taxpayers, nursing home residents, as well as their families and caregivers should be outraged and seek solutions. It is of great concern that so many nursing home residents are prescribed these drugs in the first place.”
Our Illinois medical malpractice lawyers at Levin & Perconti know that quality care must be a standard of all facilities where medical treatment is needed, including nursing homes. Hopefully this HHS investigation will raise awareness of the massive problem of unnecessary chemical restraints that continue to be placed on nursing home residents, exposing them to unnecessary deaths. We encourage all area residents to keep a close eye on their loved ones in area nursing homes to ensure that they do not become victims of these forms of medical error.
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