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Should nursing homes use antipsychotics on patients?

When people go into nursing care, one thing they may need to deal with is an increased use of medications. As people age, they may fall ill or develop conditions that rely on medications to help keep them comfortable.

Unfortunately, it's all too often that nursing homes use medications as a way to control their patients. They use medications that make them tired or calm so that they can't speak out or cause trouble for the staff. While that might be a necessary step for patients with violent behaviors, it's not right for everyone.

Antipsychotics aren't for everyone

One kind of medication used often in the elderly is an antipsychotic. The medication may be prescribed without a patient's consent, making it an even more dangerous situation.

For example, there is a story of one 79-year-old woman who went into a nursing home for a broken pelvis but then was placed on antipsychotics illegally. Despite not needing them, her daughter believed that the nursing home used them to keep her submissive.

This is unacceptable behavior on the part of any medical professional. People should not be given medications to "make them behave." They should receive them if it's necessary for their safety and care, but not without their acknowledgment or their families being informed. Antipsychotic medications, in particular, can have serious side effects and have to be considered carefully before being used. Not getting the choice is a lack of informed consent and can lead to serious charges against the nursing home facility as well as a risk of danger to the patient.

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