Nursing homes throughout Illinois are being dosed with powerful psychotropic drugs, leading to tremors, dangerous lethargy and a higher risk of harmful falls or even death, according to an investigation byThe Chicago Tribune.
Thousands of elderly and disabled people have been affected, many of them drugged without their consent or without a legitimate psychiatric diagnosis that would justify treatment, according to state and federal inspection reports reviewed by the paper.
The Trib identified 1,200 violations at Illinois nursing homes involving psychotropic medications since 2001. Those infractions affected 2,900 patients, the paper writes, adding that the actual numbers are likely far higher because regulators inspect some facilities just once every 15 months, and even then they usually check only a small sample of residents for harm.
The paper's review took into account violations for "chemical restraint" and "unnecessary drugs" as well as cases involving dosages that exceeded safety standards or falls in which psychotropics possibly played a role.
While some nursing home residents suffer from major mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia, the inspection reports show that many patients harmed by antipsychotic drugs had not been diagnosed with psychosis. They were disabled by Alzheimer's disease, cancer or Parkinson's disease. Some were blind or so frail that they could not breathe without the aid of an oxygen tank. This would appear to be a familiar story. Last year, similar reports emerged in Connecticut and Florida (look here and here). Read the rest here...