Overmedication is a problem in nursing homes in Tennessee and elsewhere in the South. It happens when an elderly or disabled resident is given an excessive amount of medication or given a medication he or she doesn't need. Sometimes it occurs by mistake, but in other cases a patient is overmedicated intentionally for the purpose of making him or her easier to control. That practice is called chemical restraint, and it may entail giving a patient antipsychotics or sedatives in order to make the patient compliant or calm. Using chemical restraints or overmedication is extremely dangerous and can cause significant damage to an already vulnerable nursing home resident. If someone you love is being subject to overmedication in a nursing home, our experienced Memphis elder abuse lawyers can help conduct the necessary investigations and file a lawsuit for damages, if appropriate.Establishing Liability in an Overmedication Lawsuit
In some cases, overmedication happens because of understaffing. Staff members may not be adequately trained or may be busy and inadvertently give a patient a double dose of medication or the wrong medication. Nursing home residents that have been overmedicated may show certain warning signs including confusion, lethargy, excessive sleeping, mood changes, anxiety, and other problems. In some cases overmedication can result in death. Antipsychotics, for example, can increase the risk of death for a dementia patient. Nursing homes should not medicate patients without a specific prescription and diagnosis.
When a nursing home resident is overmedicated for a long period, the drugs may accumulate in his or her system, triggering serious medical conditions like a heart attack or stroke, as well as addiction. If you suspect or learn that your loved one has been overmedicated by the nursing home where he or she lives, you should investigate further. State and federal laws prohibit overmedication. Under the Tennessee Adult Protection Act, a nursing home resident who has been harmed by overmedication may pursue compensation for injuries. The lawsuit may be brought against specific staff members who do harm as well as the facility that employs them.
Often staff members have red flags in their employment history that should alert a nursing home that they are not fit to work in an environment with vulnerable people. A nursing home is supposed to conduct proper background checks and ensure that the individuals who care for residents are qualified. A nursing home can be held liable for negligence for failing to conduct this check, if doing so would have prevented the overmedication from occurring. Even if a nursing home is not directly liable, it may be vicariously liable for its employees' negligence in the course and scope of their employment duties. For example, it may be indirectly liable for a nurse who uses chemical restraints in order to control or subdue more difficult residents. In addition to recovering medical expenses, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life that arise from overmedication, it may be possible to recover punitive damages if a defendant's conduct has been willful or malicious. Punitive damages are designed to punish particularly egregious conduct and discourage others from engaging in that conduct, such as a nursing home having a policy of secretly using chemical restraints involving non-prescribed antipsychotic medications on a regular basis to subdue residents.Retain an Experienced Nursing Home Negligence Attorney in Memphis
Overmedication can cause serious harm to nursing home residents in Tennessee and elsewhere in the South. If you or a loved one has been harmed by improperly administered prescription drugs, it's important to consult an experienced Memphis nursing home negligence attorney about the recourse available to you. Our firm employs over 30 attorneys and more than 100 staff members. We serve clients throughout the South in Tennessee, Missouri, Mississippi, Kentucky, and Arkansas including in Caruthersville, Haiti, Oxford, Starkville, Grenada, Columbus, Tupelo, Meridian, Jackson, Little Rock, Jonesboro, Chattanooga, Knoxville, Memphis, and Nashville. Call Nahon, Saharovich & Trotz at 1-800-LAW-4004 or complete our online form. NST is the way to go.