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The Overuse of Antipsychotics in the Healthcare Industry

Antipsychotic drugs are an increasingly common form of medication for elderly patients in health care facilities. Although these drugs treat a wide variety of health concerns, most prescribed are unnecessary, and have the potential to cause more harm than good. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine states, “ Due to an influx of the geriatric population, coupled with increasing chronic health issues, antipsychotic medications will grow to be a severe problem that should not be ignored.

Majority of patients that have continued issues with antipsychotic medications are those who are either over-prescribed or become addicted due to overuse of the drug. Although an important issue, many physicians have yet to see the pitfalls of prescribing these medications. Many medical professionals are “pressed for time, and too often write prescriptions in the interest of time management without knowing the necessary behavioral health background of a patient.” Without a proper assessment of the patient’s background, the doctor does not know how the patient may react to these medications emotionally or physically. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Prolonged use of psychoactive medications such as these has been associated with cognitive decline and depression, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Association, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.”

There are many other severe side effects that are associated with antipsychotic medications. The Wall Street Journal explains, “Excessive sedation, low respiratory rates, attention impairment, vision problems and loss of motivation are some of the side effects common in seniors, according to the agency. Confusion falls and broken bones can result. Patients may have difficulty carrying out the routine activities of daily living and lose interest in personal hygiene and grooming, and in family and friends.” An immoderate amount of antipsychotics can drastically alter elderly patients’ physical and mental health. These side effects can hinder a patient’s recovery process as well as put them at greater risk for more complications.

The overuse of antipsychotics is becoming an issue that is increasingly harder to ignore. The American Geriatric Society (AGS) is currently “updating its Beers Criteria for determining what medications are potentially inappropriate for seniors, with the aim of helping health-care providers make better decisions.”

Although there is an increase in awareness of the dangers of antipsychotic medications within the healthcare field, these medications are still being used in majority of health care facilities. An elderly patient has the fundamental right to receive the proper care while residing in a healthcare facility. At the Law Offices of Ben Yeroushalmi, we rigorously defend the rights and interests of elder abuse victims and their loved ones. Mr. Yeroushalmi and his staff are extremely knowledgeable and passionate about elder abuse and neglect litigation. If you or a loved one is a victim of elder abuse or neglect, please contact us immediately for a free, no obligation consultation. We will advocate to protect the rights to which you and your loved one are entitled. We service cities throughout northern and southern California.