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Chemical Restraints to Control Seniors

A recent report from the American Association for Justice, entitled "Standing Up for Seniors: How the Civil Justice System Protects Elderly Americans," notes a very disturbing trend in nursing homes: the rising use of chemical restraints against seniors in nursing homes. The report notes that the use of chemical restraints -- or prescribing drugs to sedate or control behaviors -- has been on the rise in the last few years. This is very disturbing to note because the consequences of chemical restraints are dangerous and even deadly. The overuse of antipsychotic medication has been linked to problems like falling, confusion, delirium, hospitalizations, and even death.

The report discusses one particularly tragic case of chemical restraining -- the case of Robert Harris. Robert Harris was a senior suffering from mild case of dementia. Before he entered the nursing home, Harris had been described as "lively," "energetic," and "occasionally quarrelsome." Those who knew him described him as a regular "grumpy old man." This grumpy Gus was evidently too much of a bother for the nursing home staff. They categorized him as psychotic and needing to be "chemically restrained." The nursing home placed Harris on two strong antipsychotics which caused him to become "an involuntary catatonic prisoner." He stopped eating and drinking normally and lost 10 percent of his body mass within a month. The drugs made him go from being active and talkative to drowsy and confused, killing his spirit but making things "easy" for the staff. Eventually Harris developed incontinence and needed a catheter. The catheter was inserted incorrectly, punctured his urethra, and caused a massive infection which eventually killed him.

As the case of Robert Harris suggests, the use of antipsychotics to sedate and control seniors has very real side effects. Many seniors are on a variety of prescribed medications that may interact poorly with antipsychotics. Also, the FDA has warned that there is an increased risk of death associated with antipsychotic drugs in Alzheimer's or dementia patients. Antipsychotics or "psychotropics" were developed to treat people with severe mental illnesses like schizophrenia, not dementia.

Unfortunately, cases like Robert Harris' are not unique. In one Illinois case, a physician was found to be dosing so many nursing home residents with antipsychotics that his practice was described as an "assembly line." In a California case, nursing home administrators routinely medicated residents with antipsychotics when they argued or complained about their care. The drugs were given without a doctor's prescription, and if the residents resisted the nursing home staff forcibly administered the drugs! There are cases all over the country of improper and dangerous use of chemical restraints, and these cases are on the rise. Trial attorneys are helping seniors and their families deal with nursing home abuse and also tackling problems at their source. Not only are trial attorneys helping patients get freed from these chemical restraints, they are also successfully bringing cases against huge pharmaceutical conglomerates who have exploited seniors by encouraging the use of antipsychotic drugs that were never intended for nursing home use.

Receiving Justice for Improper Use of Chemical Restraints

Do you think you or a loved one has been the victim of improper chemical restraints? Do you want to know your rights? Want to know what your case is worth? Want compensation? Want justice? Would you like to ensure the same thing doesn't happen to other senior citizens?

If so, call an elder abuse lawyer with experience in nursing home abuse at 800-849-4905. The call is free. The advice may be priceless.

Call the personal injury lawyers in Los Angeles for a free professional evaluation of your rights by attorneys who have been representing victims of medical malpractice and senior abuse since 1978. You will experience award winning representation and outstanding personal service by a compassionate and understanding law firm in a comfortable environment.


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Look for These
Signs of Neglect:

  • Broken or fractured bones
  • Head injuries
  • Open wounds, cuts, punctures, untreated injuries in various stages of healing
  • Broken eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids
  • Signs of punishment or physical restraint
  • Your loved one tells you they have been mistreated
  • A sudden change in behavior
  • The nursing home refuses to allow unsupervised visits
  • If your loved one exhibits any of the above signs, know your rights and contact an attorney today.

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