Overmedication happens if an elderly patient takes too much medication or takes medications that are not necessary. It can happen in nursing homes, and it may happen inadvertently or intentionally. When a nursing home resident is intentionally overmedicated, this is elder abuse and may be subject to criminal prosecution. Even if a patient is inadvertently overmedicated, it may be possible to recover damages. It is important to consult an experienced Foley nursing home negligence lawyer like Whit A. Thomas.Bringing a Claim Based on Overmedication
Sometimes patients are overmedicated intentionally in order to make it easier to control them. This is known as a chemical restraint. Often, antipsychotics and sedatives are used as chemical restraints to calm a patient down or make them more likely to comply with the directions that are provided by nursing home staff, caregivers, and family members. Sometimes nursing homes medicate patients even if there is no prescription to do so.
Overmedication may also show that a nursing home is understaffed. When there are not enough staff members, or staff members are unqualified, the records may be unclear, or staff members may not have the right training to properly distribute the appropriate amount of medication according to what the prescription requires.
If a loved one starts showing certain warning signs, you should consider the possibility that there has been prior or ongoing overmedication. Signs of overmedication may include alterations to mood or conduct, lethargy, confusion, sleeping too much, or inexplicable medical conditions. It is dangerous for a patient to be overmedicated or medicated without a prescription from a doctor who is trained to understand potential adverse interactions and who will know when medication should not be prescribed to a particular patient. For example, antipsychotics increase the chance of a dementia patient dying. When overmedication results in death, it may be possible to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
When overmedication happens over months or years, a medication may accumulate, such that it causes a heart attack, stroke, or chronic illness. It may result in patient addiction and create physical issues when the medication is withdrawn. If a patient is found to have been overmedicated over a period of time, the patient should be carefully weaned from the medication, with the assistance of a doctor. Sometimes, however, overmedication is a result of abuse. In that case, it may be necessary to remove the resident from his or her nursing home. Moreover, if a resident has negative reactions to the medication, he or she should be medically treated.
An attorney may be able to help you recover damages for harm caused by overmedication under the Alabama Medical Liability Act of 1975. Under this law, plaintiffs have a greater burden of proof than they do in ordinary negligence claims. If you sue under this law, you will need to show that the nursing home's breach of the professional standard of care caused your injuries. It is also necessary to retain a credible and knowledgeable expert to provide opinions about what the professional standard of care was and how it was breached.
A nursing home chart and other records will be critical evidence in a nursing home negligence claim. Federal and state regulations require specific information to be maintained with regard to resident care. Sometimes resident care must be documented in a nurse's notes on a daily or regular basis, as well as at other times if the resident's condition changes. Often, multiple caregivers must keep these records. The caregivers associated with the appropriate handling of medication may include nurses, doctors, social workers, and nutritionists.Hire an Injury Lawyer in Foley to Assert Your Rights
Tenacious attorney Whit A. Thomas can look at the facts surrounding an episode or pattern of overmedication and fight for your rights. Our firm prides itself on keeping an open line of communication with clients at every turn in their case. We proudly represent nursing home residents throughout Southern Alabama, including in Foley, Summerdale, Robertsdale, Elberta, Lillian, Loxley, Fairhope, Daphne, Gulf Shores, and Orange Beach, as well as other communities throughout Baldwin, Mobile, Escambia, and Monroe Counties. Call 251-943-9330 or contact us through our online form.