Report: medication errors are rampant in nursing homes

Putting an aging parent in a nursing home is a very difficult decision for many families to make. A recent report from the Health and Human Services inspector general may make that decision even more difficult for many  families.

The report found rampant medication errors in nursing homes across the country. In the first half of 2007 there were over 300,000 instances of antipsychotic drugs being given “unnecessarily” according to the report. CBS News reports that over half of those drugs were given in excessive doses.

One daughter regrets putting her father in a nursing home. She said that her father’s condition deteriorated quickly after he began living at the nursing home.

“Eyes glassed over with sweating, cracked mouth. How did that happen in three days?” she told CBS News. “He was laying in his bed, unresponsive. I just looked at him and thought what’s going on?”

Her father would die within a month. The nursing home gave the father antipsychotic drugs despite his dementia. The FDA has specifically warned that antipsychotic drugs are not approved for dementia patients and can increase the risk of sudden death in these patients.

The Department of Health and Human Services also noted that Medicare paid for antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes 88 percent of the time when the drugs were administered to dementia patients. CBS news reports that there appears to be a kickback scheme between some nursing homes, pharmacies and drug manufacturers.

Antipsychotic drugs are frequently used to compensate for nursing homes that were understaffed or have inadequately trained staff despite the dangers posed to patients.

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