Polypharmacy is the use of multiple medications at the same time. Opinions on what qualifies as polypharmacy vary, but it can be the use of anywhere from three to 10 or more medications, according to the Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine (JAMDA). It is also defined as the use of more drugs than is medically necessary.
Polypharmacy can be dangerous. Taking multiple medications puts patients at risk for a host of complications. If your loved one was hurt or died because of a medication issue at their nursing home, an Austin polypharmacy lawyer with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm might be able to help. Call our offices at (800) 842-6336 to schedule a free consultation and learn more.
Polypharmacy and the Elderly
Polypharmacy is common in older adults because they are more likely to have multiple health conditions. According to the journal Expert Opinion on Drug Safety, nearly half of older adults take at least one medication that is unnecessary, and nursing home residents take the highest number of drugs.
The Dangers of Polypharmacy
Polypharmacy puts patients at risk for complications. Using multiple medications increases the chances of a medication error occurring. Medication errors can result in adverse drug events (ADEs), causing serious side effects, hospitalization, and death. According to the Patient Safety Network (PSNet), ADEs are one of the most common and preventable conditions in all care settings, including nursing home facilities.
Other issues with polypharmacy include:
● Increased risk for negative drug interactions
● A higher occurrence of patients not complying with their drug regimens
● Association with functional decline and cognitive impairment
● Increased risk for falls, urinary incontinence, malnourishment, and dehydration
What Caregivers Can Do to Reduce the Risks Associated with Polypharmacy
Nursing home facility staff are responsible for making sure your family member’s medications are being properly administered. Staff also must be aware of any potential complications and know the warning signs of an ADE.
According to MedlinePlus, keeping careful records of all prescription and over-the-counter medications a patient is taking can reduce the chance of complications. Keep medications in a well-organized manner, and take all drugs exactly as directed by the health care provider who prescribed them.
Any doctor or other health care provider who prescribes medications to a patient should be aware of other drugs the patient is taking. Facility staff should also monitor nursing home residents for negative drug side effects, especially if they have been prescribed a new medication. If adverse side effects are noticed, the resident’s health care provider should be notified immediately. The use of a drug should not be stopped without a doctor’s consent.
For a free legal consultation with a Polypharmacy Lawyer serving Austin, call (800) 842-6336
Polypharmacy and Nursing Home Abuse
If you think your loved one suffered an injury or was otherwise harmed because of polypharmacy, consider reaching out to an Austin Polypharmacy lawyer. Errors involving your loved one’s medications could indicate more serious issues with the nursing home and its staff.
If the staff fails to properly medicate your loved one or make mistakes administering their medication, there might be other problems with your family member’s care. Your loved one could be suffering from neglect. Make sure your loved one’s basic needs are being met and that they receive the help they need to use the bathroom, eat, drink, move around, and more.
When you visit your loved one, the facility should be clean and appear well-organized and well-run. Staff should be calm and friendly, and there should be enough employees on hand to meet every resident’s needs.
Neglect is just one form of abuse. Nursing home residents can also suffer from psychological, sexual, and physical abuse at the hands of their caregivers. Physical signs of abuse may include high instances of falls and other accidents and unexplained injuries like bruises, burns, and cuts. Emotional signs of abuse may include mood changes, withdrawal from activities, sleeplessness, and aggressive behavior.
If you are interested in pursuing legal action on behalf of a loved one in a nursing home who was injured or harmed after using multiple medications, give Pintas & Mullins Law Firm a call today to schedule a free case evaluation. We can hear the details of your situation and provide legal counsel on your possible next steps.
Austin Polypharmacy Lawyer Near Me (800) 842-6336
Deliberate Misuse of Medications
Unfortunately, there is evidence that some nursing home facilities may use medications as a means of controlling residents to make them more docile and easier to manage.
National Public Radio (NPR) reported in 2014 that nearly 300,000 nursing home residents were receiving antipsychotic drugs for anxiety or aggression, which often accompany dementia. In many cases, these medications are administered to nursing home residents without their families’ consent.
Using antipsychotics in this manner is a form of chemical restraint, which is abuse and prohibited by federal law. Not only that, but these medications could interfere with other drugs, putting residents at risk for ADEs.
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What to Do if You Think Your Loved One Has Suffered Abuse
If you think your loved one is the victim of abuse or neglect, you should report it immediately. According to the Attorney General of Texas, the Texas Department of Aging and Disabilities (DADS) licenses and inspects nursing homes. You can file a complaint with DADS for the abuse of your loved one.
You may also wish to take legal action against the nursing home and those who harmed your family member. An attorney can help you investigate your family member’s facility and look into any issues related to polypharmacy. If negligence is found to be the cause of your loved one’s injury or death, you could be entitled to damages.
An attorney may be able to help you recover expenses related to your loved one’s medical care. You can also fight for damages to compensate your loved one for their pain and suffering. If your loved one died from complications with polypharmacy, you might be able to sue for their wrongful death. Texas allows two years from the time of your family member’s accident or death to file suit.
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Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Help You
Our legal team is ready to help you with your polypharmacy case. Your loved one should not suffer further or take on medical bills and other losses that result from a polypharmacy case.
Contact Pintas & Mullins Law Firm for help finding an Austin polypharmacy lawyer. Call us today at (800) 842-6336 for a free consultation.