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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Are Nursing Homes Over-Drugging Their Residents?

Posted By on Tue, Oct 25, 2011 at 3:45 PM

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According to the San Francisco-based organization California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR), more than 25,000 California nursing-home residents are being given anti-psychotic drugs. That's about a quarter of the state's nursing-home population, and according to CANHR and other elder-rights activists, it's a figure that's way too high -- particularly considering the negative side effects these medications can have.

"They're being sedated into zombie-hood," says CANHR staff lawyer Tony Chicotel. He adds that anti-psychotic medications increase the risk of death among seniors, are prescribed in place of more effective non-drug methods for handling patients with dementia, and are often give without obtaining patients' consent.

"They're very rarely asked whether they want to take the medication," Chicotel says.

Over-drugging of nursing home residents will be the subject of a day-long forum to take place Thursday, Oct. 27, at the South San Francisco Convention Center. Chicotel will give a presentation at the event, along with other advocates and professionals in the field.

While some doctors still argue that medications are a practical way of controlling otherwise intractable older dementia patients with symptoms of psychosis, many medical experts are beginning to revisit policies on prescribing drugs to nursing-home residents.

The forum will take place from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. You can check out more information on it here.

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Peter Jamison

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