The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has announced that it will investigate an alarming number of claims that nursing homes are wrongfully drugging their residents. According to complaints from across the country, nursing home centers are intentionally misdiagnosing elderly residents with schizophrenia, which then authorizes the nursing home to give them sedatives.
The investigation was kickstarted after a report emerged last year that more than one-in-five or 20% of nursing home residents were regularly provided with antipsychotic sedatives. The rate of sedative medication use was alarming because less than 1% of the U.S. population has received a schizophrenia diagnosis that would justify the use of such medications. Although cognitive health concerns can increase with age, the risk of such a severe mental health disorder does not become 20 times greater. Also, schizophrenia is usually comorbid with dementia or heart disease, which is not very prevalent among nursing home residents.
According to CMS data, the rate of nursing home residents treated for schizophrenia without a diagnosis from a primary care provider nearly doubled between 2015 and 2019. This increase occurred only a few years after the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) warned that misuse of antipsychotic medications could cause a significant risk of fatal complications.
Upsettingly, nursing homes that are found to have wrongly dosed residents with antipsychotic sedatives are punished only through administrative measures. Typically, the nursing home is given a one-star rating in the CMS Five-Star Quality Measure Rating system. A one-star rating will damage the nursing home’s ability to receive federal funding and other benefits, but it doesn’t guarantee the behavior will stop, nor does it provide any sort of relief to the people and families who have suffered because of it.
(For more information about this ongoing investigation, you can click here to view a full article from the Daily Mail.)
Can Legal Action Be Taken?
The Law Office of Tom Wagstaff Jr. in Kansas City is currently investigating this unfolding situation with the CMS and unsafe, uncalled-for sedatives used in nursing homes. Although the CMS may only give a nursing home a “slap on the wrist” as a penalty, a civil court might not be so forgiving. Nursing homes have a duty to care for the health and well-being of their residents. Intentionally misusing sedatives is a clear violation of that duty, which could be the groundwork for a nursing home abuse claim or lawsuit.
Our law firm is a preeminent name for nursing home abuse plaintiff representation. We have secured several multi-million-dollar settlements and verdicts for nursing home abuse clients in the past. While we can’t promise a specific case result or dollar value for a claim, we can say that our team takes every case to heart, works diligently, and fights for every penny owed to our clients.
Please let us fight for your elderly loved one, so we can show our passion and experience. Call (816) 597-4556 or contact us online if your elderly loved one was unsafely given antipsychotic medication in a nursing home.