Overmedication in Nursing Homes

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Nursing home San Miguel Villa recently paid $2.3 million to settle allegations of nursing home neglect. Among the allegations were that the nursing home residents were overmedicated with psychotropic drugs. U.S. attorneys pursuing the case say the treatment residents received caused falls, altercations between residents, and mental harm.

A person living in a nursing home has the right to be treated with respect and dignity. What about overmedication? Is it allowed? If it occurs, what can the victim or family do?

Our law firm handles nursing home abuse and neglect cases in Greenville. Today, we will talk about overmedication in nursing homes. We explain what to do if you or a loved one may be a victim.

Understanding Overmedication in Nursing Homes

What is overmedication in a nursing home?

Overmedication in a nursing home occurs when a person receives medication that is not prescribed for them. It also occurs when a person receives a higher dose than is prescribed for a therapeutic purpose.

How can you tell if someone is overmedicated?

Signs that someone may be overmedicated are:

  • Sudden changes in behavior
  • Lethargy and drowsiness; sleeping for long periods
  • Changes in social behavior; withdrawal from family and friends
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • New medical problems and complications
  • Inability to attend to personal hygiene
  • Falls; problems with balance and motor skills
  • Mental health suffering; depression and anxiety
  • Weight loss or gain

Overmedication can cause physical and mental damage. In addition, it can diminish the quality of life because the person is often too medicated to enjoy their normal lifestyle.

Are chemical restraints allowed in nursing homes?

No. To the extent that they’re used strictly to sedate a patient to make care easier, chemical restraints are not allowed in nursing homes. Each care facility must be staffed appropriately and provide appropriate care to residents. Chemical restraints are permitted only to treat medical conditions and, when necessary, to protect a resident from harm. Their use must be minimized to the extent possible.

Why do nursing homes overmedicate?

Nursing homes overmedicate intentionally and accidentally. When they do it intentionally, they want residents to be easier to control. They don’t want to spend time helping the person with mobility, daily care, and socialization needs. If it’s accidental, nursing homes overmedicate due to chart mix-ups, understaffing, rushing, or a failure to give sufficient attention to providing care.

Your Legal Rights

The South Carolina Nursing Home Bill of Rights gives nursing home residents the right to be free of restraint from drugs that are not ordered for them. This specific right goes along with the more general right of being treated with respect and dignity. (S.C. Code § 44-81-40).

Is overmedicating physical abuse?

Overmedicating is physical abuse. It violates a person’s right to be free from unwanted bodily touching and interference with their physical person.

Can a claim be brought against a nursing home when someone has been overmedicated?

A person who has been overmedicated in a nursing home may bring a legal claim. They may deserve compensation based on negligence, battery, and other legal causes of action. The compensation they may claim may reflect the cost of medical treatment and evaluation associated with the overmedication. It may include medical complications, physical suffering, and emotional anguish. When their actions are intentional, the nursing home may be required to pay punitive damages.

If you or a loved one believes that overmedication may have occurred, we invite you to talk to our law firm about a legal claim for compensation. Not only does it hold the nursing home accountable for what happened, but it can provide a monetary payment for the victim’s medical bills and emotional suffering. Lawyer Bobby Jones works on behalf of victims and their families to claim compensation.

What to do if someone is overmedicated in a nursing home

If you suspect that someone is overmedicated in a nursing home, there are multiple ways to take action. You may raise your concerns internally with nursing home representatives. There are ways to report nursing home abuse and make a complaint for an external investigation to state officials. It may also be appropriate to make a criminal report.

Our law firm can help you respond if you suspect nursing home abuse or neglect. If you or a loved one may be the victim of overmedication, it can be hard to know what to do. The caring team at Bobby Jones Law can help. Contact us today to talk to our friendly and professional team.

The team at Bobby Jones Law LLC works tirelessly for the injured in South Carolina. His achievements include:
  • More than $60 million collected for our clients
  • Multiple recoveries exceeding $1 million, including an eight-figure settlement
  • Recognized by Best Lawyers in America
  • Named among the “Best Law Firms” by U.S. News & World Report
  • Named to the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by The National Trial Lawyers
  • Named to Super Lawyers 2017–2024
  • Member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum
  • Selected as Legal Elite of the Upstate 2021–2023
  • Named among Super Lawyers "Rising Stars"
We’re humbled to be considered one of the top firms in the Upstate and invite you to learn what sets our award-winning legal services apart. Call or request a consultation online.
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