Medication Abuse in a Nursing Home

Three employees of a California nursing home are in police custody accused of forcibly administrating psychotropic drugs to patients to make them easier for staff to control. One, a former director of nursing, ordered that dementia patients be given high doses of the mood-altering drugs not as part of their therapy, but to make them more tranquil. In all, officials say 22 patients were affected. Police say three patients may have died from complications caused by the drugs and another may have been injured.

It‰Ûªs tough enough keeping up with your own medications let alone worrying about someone you love in a nursing facility.

Here are few tips from my book Who Moved My Dentures?

1. Take a nurse with you when you go to visit a place you are considering or have chosen a facility. He/She will know what to look for and can spot medication mis-management. They might ask questions like-

2. Is there a multidisciplinary approach to care, that is, is there a team approach?

3. Is care individualized for each patient?

4. What kind of quality assurance program do they have in place?

5. How is their data handled?

6. Are medical records computerized?

7. Is there full documentation of what is taking place?

8. What are the checks and balances in place to assure that everything is being done above board?

9. What emergency procedures are in place?

10. What hospital will a resident be taken to if care is needed?

11. How is a resident‰Ûªs own physician brought into the care team?

Answers to these questions may give some peace of mind that the overall clinical quality of care, including medication management, is sound. Or it may reveal the opposite. Act accordingly.