How Much is Too Much When it Comes to Medicating Elderly Patients?

You rely on doctors and nurses to care for your elderly loved one when they are sick or in pain. If they are living at a nursing home, Your first inclination might be to say, “I don’t know. I’m not a physician.” However, you know your elderly loved one better than anyone else. If you feel something seems wrong when it comes to the welfare of your mother, father or other older relative, don’t ignore your suspicions.

If you believe your relative is being overmedicated — perhaps because they are acting extremely lethargic when you visit, they are always sleeping, or maybe they appear to be in a fog when talking with you — you owe it to them to find out what’s going on. New meds may have been warranted and the side effects can’t be helped. However, overmedicating an older patient in a nursing home or hospital may also be a sign of elder abuse.

Here are some things to do right away that will help you get closer to finding out what’s really going on:

  1. Ask questions: You’re right, your mom may be taking more medication than they have been in the past. Perhaps there is a reason. Talk to the head nurse to find out if a new regimen is in place. If your loved one’s condition has changed, new meds may be necessary.
  2. View the charts: Any changes in medication administration must be properly ordered by a physician and documented by the person administering the meds. If the changes are noted in the chart by a trustworthy source, you may want to have a conversation about the side effects of the medications.
  3. Question whether there are alternatives: Change in behavior or condition may warrant new medications. However, with thousands of drugs available on the market, it may be worth asking if another one would be just as suitable – with fewer side effects.

If you don’t like the answers you are getting from the nursing home or hospital staff, you have a right to take your concerns to the next level. Keep a log of all situations that have led to your suspicions and document all your inquiries to staff. Write down the questions you asked and the answers you received.

Be aware, as well, that just because a doctor ordered medications “as needed” that workers may be administering it too often or when it’s unnecessary. This type of behavior may be considered medical negligence.

Talk to a skilled and experienced nursing home abuse lawyer who will work tirelessly to get to the bottom of what’s going on with your relative. Barry Sugarman fights for patients who have been abused or neglected. If your loved one is being overmedicated wrongly, he will prepare a case that holds the negligent parties responsible for their abusive behavior. Contact him today for a free consultation about your case.

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