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Antipsychotics used to Tame Residents

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, April 08, 2015

Growing old: it is something we all must face one day, but now, with more caution than before. Nursing homes have been under scrutiny for their abuse of prescribing antipsychotic drugs to control their residents. Specifically, a study conducted by the United States' government in 2008 revealed that "88 percent of Medicare claims for antipsychotics prescribed in nursing homes were for treating symptoms of dementia, even though the drugs aren't approved for that". Not only are antipsychotics not approved for individuals with dementia, they are highly warned against, as they have been proven to increase the risk of infection, heart failure, and death. 

So why are nursing homes unnecessarily prescribing these dangerous drugs? Many claim the reason that nursing homes are turning to antipsychotic drugs to control patients is because the homes are significantly understaffed. Unable to be provided sufficient care, nursing home residents become more restless. The staff in turn controls this restlessness with drug abuse. In addition, patients with dementia, Alzheimer's, and related diseases often suffer from increased levels of aggression and anxiety, and antipsychotic drugs have been said to suppress these symptoms. However, the suppression has been described as "mind-numbing", leaving patients in a state of confusion.

The government has become involved in the efforts to alleviate this drug-abuse issue: in 2011, the U.S. government committed to reducing antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes by 15% within one year. However, the campaign lasted two years and then left over 300,000 nursing home residents still prescribed to these drugs. Requiring informed consent has also been a mechanism used to reduce this abuse. However, nursing homes have often found ways around this required consent as many residents and  family members were unaware of the prescription drugs. Obviously, this is an issue that needs to be legally addressed. If you suspect your loved one has suffered from any sort of abuse in a nursing home, call us immediately for a free consultation at 512-472-6097.

The full article is available at: www.npr.org/blogs/health/2014/12/08/368524824/old-and-overmedicated-the-real-drug-problem-in-nursing-homes

Invasion of Privacy?

Modesett Williams - Wednesday, April 01, 2015

The use of cameras in nursing homes has been a widely-debated topic since Texas became the first state to legally support it in 2001. Many states have followed Texas' lead, while others have been more hesitant to do so. The main issue of concern is privacy, both that of the residents and that of the support staff. 


An article posted in Citizen's Voice offered the following story as a depiction of privacy issues associated with cameras in nursing homes. Last fall, a man named Stuart Sanderson lost his ability to speak and could only communicate with his family by means of lip-reading. A camera was placed in Mr. Sanderson's room so that he could speak to his family more often, and thus, enhance his quality of life. Mr. Sanderson had lived in the same nursing home for years, but the home's staff perceived the camera as a threat and removed it from his room. The staff instructed Mr. Sanderson to write a note defending his camera use, which his family argued was a "cruel hurdle for a man with limited mobility who selects each letter by pushing the back of his head against a switch". The note that Mr. Sanderson wrote exclaimed that he was note spying on anyone, and that the camera was just a means of communicating with his family.


The previous story illustrates a clear concern of nursing home staff: they do not want to be spied on. Proponents of camera use, however, claim that there should be nothing to hide. If nursing home employees are acting appropriately and within the scope of their authority, a camera could not capture anything detrimental to the staff. Issues of privacy are also a measure of concern for the nursing home residents themselves, particularly in shared-rooms. Consent and proper awareness will be the key issues here. Fair standards need to be implemented so that privacy is protected and abuse depressed.



The full article can be read here: www.citizensvoice.com/news/do-nursing-home-cameras-protect-or-intrude-1.1855568

The Most Disturbing Elderly Abuse Cases: Sexual Assault

Modesett Williams - Thursday, February 12, 2015

In 2012, Mary Rivera was placed in a nursing home after being diagnosed with dementia. She was the beloved mother of 8 who spent her life cleaning nursing homes to support her family. Her daughter went to visit her mother one weekend to find that she was behaving very strangely and appeared injured. Her daughter took her into a hospital that same day where exams concluded that she had been sexually assaulted. 


As disturbing as this case is, it is unfortunately not uncommon. KVUE reports that since September of 2009, over 494 sexual assaults claims have been filed in Texas alone to the Department of Aging and Disabilities Services, otherwise known as DAADS. Of those 494 claims (yes, that many) only 8 have been substantiated as legitimate by the department. Although Mary Rivera's rape kit has not yet been tested by the Austin Police Department, DAADS has already closed her case. It is unacceptable that this many claims have been submitted to DAADS, an organization that should be protecting the elderly, not ignoring claims that ultimately subject them to abuse.


Our own Jack Modesett successfully represented Miss Rivera’s lawsuit. With dedication and perseverance, it is possible that we will end eradicated these disturbing elderly abuse cases.



To view the full article, visit the KVUE website: http://www.kvue.com/story/news/investigations/defenders/2015/02/09/these-are-the-perfect-victims/23144269/

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