In a recent discovery, a New York Times investigation revealed a new ongoing case of nursing home abuse happening across the nation where doctors have used the false diagnosis of schizophrenia to justify inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs on dementia patients. These diagnoses have been used to heavily sedate residents in place of hiring more staff to tend to the increased needs of those with severe dementia.
Antipsychotics have been found to be dangerous for older individuals with dementia and can lead to heart failure, infections, falls and more. One death noted in the article occurred inside a South Carolina nursing home to a 63-year-old man who was misdiagnosed with schizophrenia without any evidence of having such disease, later dying after eight months of “round-the-clock sedation, devastating weight loss, pneumonia and severe bedsores that required one of his feet to be amputated.”
The investigation points out that antipsychotics have such a high risk when being used to treat patients that nursing homes must report when residents require them, although the government makes an exception for those suffering from schizophrenia, making it a go-to disease when it comes to false diagnoses. A former nursing home executive and geriatrician, Dr. Michael Wasserman, has recently become a critic of the nursing home industry, confirming that patients don’t just become schizophrenic in their elderly years and that people with the disease are typically diagnosed before the age of forty. In a rather disturbing statistic, the New York Times investigation pointed out, “Today, one in nine residents has received a schizophrenia diagnosis. In the general population, the disorder, which has strong genetic roots, afflicts roughly one in 150 people.”
Nursing homes continue to hide the reality of inappropriate antipsychotic drug use to also save face when it comes to their star rating. These ratings are supposed to help families choose a safe option to put their loved ones in, although this becomes quite difficult as homes refuse to disclose information like drug abuse and being understaffed.
Read more about the misleading rating system of nursing homes on our blog.
At GLP Attorneys, we believe families should never have to settle for their loved ones being abused or neglected inside a nursing home. If you believe your loved one is being mistreated, reach out for a free lawyer consultation today. We are here to get your family the justice they deserve.