Chemical Restraints and Informed Consent

Carole Herman wrote an interesting article on the overmedication of nursing home residents.  Ms. Herman formed the Foundation Aiding The Elderly (FATE) in 1982 after her aunt was overmedicated by her family physician and subsequently fell, broke her hip and ended up in a nursing home for rehabilitation.  She argues that the overmedication of her aunt was a  "chemical restraints".  "The adverse side effects Haldol caused her to stop talking and swallowing; made her unable to do rehab; and ultimately made her bed-ridden, which caused her to develop a bed sore that eventually killed her."  

"Over the years, I have worked very hard getting the word out about this national disgrace. Our most vulnerable citizens in long-term care facilities do not have a voice and FATE has been able to fill that void by speaking loud and clear for them and their families about abuses in long-term care facilities and, in particular, the overmedication of the patients in those places."

The federal government set regulations that antipsychotic medications in nursing homes may not be administered unless agreed to by the patient or the patient's decision maker in the event that patient was incompetent. It is called "informed consent" and the informed consent can only be obtained by the physician. It must be documented that the consent was in fact obtained by the physician.

"FATE began a letter-writing campaign a couple of months ago targeting the CEO's of the major television networks, publishing companies and newspapers and magazines, asking that they consider not advertising antipsychotic medications because of the horrific adverse side effects of these drugs -- especially in the elderly. So far, not one response!"

"I realize that we are fighting two of the biggest industries in the country -- nursing homes and pharmaceutical companies. Not only are these industries huge advertisers, they are also big campaign donors. However, it is time that the problems with prescribed medications and nursing home abuses are brought to the forefront so that the public knows what to watch out for."

"With the baby boomers now turning 66, these problems are only going to get worse. It is not a mystery any longer that nursing home patients die each year from poor care, neglect and adverse side effects of antipsychotics drugs. And yet, the beat continues and the drugs are still being prescribed, and usually without consent. The pharmaceutical companies are taking our minds away from us and it's being allowed because the industry has tons of money to make sure that they are marketed to the public for consumption and the physicians continue to prescribe them."

Herman argues that "there is an epidemic of the use of mind altering drugs that needs to be addressed, as well as the lack of oversight by the government regulators to insure that all of us citizens who may end up in a nursing home someday get the proper care and treatment that we all deserve and that we all are paying for."

 

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