Peter Thompson
Peter Thompson

Overmedicating

The Maine overmedication attorneys of Peter Thompson & Associates are renowned for their excellence in personal injury law. We are dedicated to defending the rights of victims harmed by overmedication and other types of nursing home neglect. Our firm provides unparalleled legal service to personal injury and medical malpractice victims throughout Maine.

Overmedication is a common problem in nursing homes across America. Doctors prescribe medication based on factors such as body weight, physical condition, and tolerance to the drug. But without a proper doctor-patient relationship, it is easy to overmedicate. This is especially true when the patient is taking different prescription medications that interact with each other or cause side effects. Avandia, for example, is a drug commonly prescribed to treat a form of diabetes, but it can also increase the risk of heart attacks. Taking too much thyroid medication can also lead to a sudden change in weight, anxiety or fatigue. For already-agitated patients, nursing homes sometimes use Haldol, a strong antipsychotic drug, to force them to comply. Unfortunately, Haldol can also severely inhibit speech and swallowing, leading to malnutrition and dehydration.

Even if a dose is correct, studies have shown that Americans consume too many drugs. Over 61% of adults use one or more drugs to treat chronic health problems. More than 1 in 4 seniors in nursing homes take at least 5 medications daily. This may seem harmless, but because most medications cause serious side effects, patients are often prescribed even more drugs to counteract them. Pain medication, for example, is known to cause constipation in nursing home patients. That is why residents with chronic pain are also prescribed a laxative to take as well. Pain management is a large part of nursing home care. As such, giving patients too much pain medication is also the leading cause of death due to an accidental overdose or impacted bowels.

Overmedication is common in drugs used to treat chronic illnesses including:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Cholesterol
  • Heart disease
  • Hypertension
  • Kidney disease
  • High blood sugar
  • Thyroid condition

Nursing homes have a legal duty to prevent overmedicating their patients because doing so can lead to further injury or seriously harm those under their care. Overmedication in seniors often causes lack of appetite and trouble swallowing, leading to weakness and an increased risk of falls. Physicians and nurses should warn patients that dizziness and confusion is a common side effect in some medications, so they need to call for help before attempting to get up. Nurses responsible for administering a laxative in conjunction with pain pills must actually check that the patient has had a bowel movement to prevent the bowels from bursting and causing sepsis, a severe and potentially deadly form of infection. Proper hydration is also required to ensure that patients do not develop urinary tract infections, which can be fatal. Finally, physicians should not liberally administer antipsychotics or other “chemical” restraints without the informed consent of the patient or the patient’s legal representative.

The ability to detect and adequately respond to adverse reactions requires actually checking on the patient, not simply relying on medical monitoring equipment. Otherwise, a disturbing change or sudden decline may go unnoticed. Staff members who do their jobs can easily notice the effects of overmedication and communicate them to the physician. Nursing homes that fail to timely or properly respond to a rapidly deteriorating condition have not provided the 24-hour care promised to the patient. Having breached a legal duty, they may be liable for negligence. Negligent doctors who overmedicate may be sued for malpractice. Nursing homes that take no action to remedy the situation may lose their license.

If you were harmed by overmedication, contact the experienced Maine overmedication lawyers at Peter Thompson & Associates today. Injured patients and surviving family members are entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost income, and pain and suffering. If the overmedication resulted in the patient’s death, family members may also recover damages associated with the loss of relationship with the deceased. At Peter Thompson & Associates, we have successfully handled all types of cases involving overmedication and other types of nursing home abuse, recovering substantial verdicts and settlements for clients across Maine. Let us help you and your loved ones recover the compensation you deserve. Call (800) 804-2004 for a free consultation, or contact us online.