Nursing Home Administers Antipsychotics to 'Quiet' Patients Down
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Nursing homes across the nation administer antipsychotics to residents with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia, but one nursing home in Sonora, Calif., may have crossed the line.
Marie Sherman and her family decided to place her 73-year-old mother, Beatrice DeLeon, in a home. The decision wasn’t made because of Beatrice’s Alzheimer’s disease, but because she had recently suffered from falling injuries. Even still, the nursing home staff was quick to dole out antipsychotics.
“We didn't want my dad to try to lift her, and we wanted to make sure she was safe,” said Marie. “They kept saying she was making too much noise, and that they give her this medicine to quiet her down.”
While the Sherman family consented to the nursing home staff giving Beatrice antipsychotics, they were shocked at her condition when they came to visit. “I mean, she was calling for help,” said Marie. “She was praying, ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, please, please help me. Please take me, please, get me out!’”
The Sherman family later learned the nursing home had given Beatrice, Risperdal and Seroquel, medications used to treat bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Federal law requires a documented medical need for antipsychotics before they are administered, and certainly prohibits their use to “quiet” patients down. But according to Manuel, that didn’t stop his mother-in-law from receiving the medications.
“They just kept giving her more and more,” said Manuel DeLeon, Marie’s husband, “and I noticed when I used to go see her, she’d just kind of mumble like she was lost.”
Professor Bradley Williams, who teaches pharmacy and gerontology at the University of Southern California, says antipsychotics should be used as a last resort and only for a short period of time.