The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care awarded Human Rights Watch its annual Public Service Award this month in recognition of the organization’s report “’They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia.”
Published in February 2018, Human Rights Watch discovered that nursing homes often administer antipsychotic drugs to residents with dementia without informed consent—and, in many instances, given to those who do not have the proper diagnosis to use the drug. These drugs alter consciousness and negatively impact a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Those who were interviewed—both patients and their loved ones—said taking such medications can have a harmful cognitive, emotional, and social effect.
Many nursing homes use antipsychotic drugs to sedate patients, instead of providing necessary medical attention. Since many facilities throughout the United States do not have an adequate number of staff members, they are unable to provide patients with the appropriate care. Rather than use antipsychotic drugs as a last resort, they are typically used nearly by default at the convenience of nursing home staff and go so far as to discipline patients, especially to control those who can be difficult to manage.
Human Rights Watch said using such drugs as a “chemical restraint” is a violation of US federal regulations and considered as a cruel and inhuman practice according to international human rights law. Federal standards states using the drugs without proper monitoring or indication for use is illegal.
The organization recommended that federal and state governments should strongly enforce federal law when it comes to administering antipsychotic drugs and ensure that nursing homes hire enough staff to offer proper care to patients. Furthermore, patients and their families should be informed about their right to refuse antipsychotic drugs and alternative treatment options.
The research and reporting by Human Rights Watch resulted in a greater understanding of the risks elderly patients experience in U.S. nursing homes. If you suspect that your loved one is subject to nursing home abuse or neglect in Baltimore, our experienced legal team at Brown & Barron, LLC is committed to not only help you and your family obtain the compensation you deserve, but make sure this type of behavior and negligence stops once and for all.
For more information about nursing home abuse, contact usand schedule a free consultation today.