It is not uncommon for senior nursing home residents to take medicines to improve their health and quality of life. However, complications may arise when the number of prescribed drugs increases, and interactions cause the resident to experience dangerous side effects. If you believe your loved one is suffering from an overuse of medicines, you may want to reach out to a Los Angeles polypharmacy lawyer. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm today to discuss your legal options with a team member.
Polypharmacy involves a patient’s simultaneous use of multiple medications to treat various health conditions. However, the term also refers to giving more drugs to a person than what is medically necessary. The journal Expert Opinion on Drug Safety found that almost half of older adults take at least one unnecessary medication.
Although there is currently no consensus among experts regarding the specific number of drugs that constitute polypharmacy, most consider the use of five or more as such. Nevertheless, nursing home care providers should be aware of any unintended consequences that could arise from giving a combination of medications to a resident, regardless of the quantity.
How Polypharmacy Harms Senior Nursing Home Residents
While taking multiple drugs can be beneficial—even necessary—to combat disease, polypharmacy could be damaging when a nursing home resident receives more drugs than needed. They also could be in danger when there is inadequate research on the potential interaction of drugs.
You might want to seek the counsel of a Los Angeles polypharmacy lawyer to learn whether your loved one suffered from medication errors and side effects of polypharmacy. Get in touch with Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to speak with a team member who can assess your situation.
For a free legal consultation with an polypharmacy lawyer serving Los Angeles, call (800) 794-0444
Effect of Medications on Seniors
Compared to younger people, seniors can have a harder time metabolizing drugs because of age-related changes to their livers and their organ functions. An older adult’s body tends to have a different reaction to medications—and even experience drug toxicity—when drugs in the blood reach high levels. As such, care providers must observe closely if the medication strength and type need to be adjusted.
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Polypharmacy Can Have Serious Risks
Without proper supervision, polypharmacy can prove harmful to older adults. Taking too many medications can strain their bodies and lead to more health problems. Aside from facing adverse drug reactions when taking multiple medications, the following are other issues that seniors may encounter:
- Cognitive Impairment
- Falls due to balance loss
- Urinary Incontinence
- Organ damage
- Other geriatric syndromes
Regrettably, seniors often get overmedicated when caretakers assume that the signs of polypharmacy are symptoms of a new health condition. Instead of looking into the effects of drug interactions, caretakers will prescribe more medications and further increase the risks. Negligent polypharmacy can also happen when nursing home staff do not take note of the effects of certain drugs on a resident. A Los Angeles polypharmacy lawyer may be able to assist you if you suspect a nursing home has given your loved one inappropriate medication.
Polypharmacy in Nursing Homes
For decades, there have been increasing fears about polypharmacy incidents in nursing homes across the country. The Expert Opinion on Drug Safety study revealed that nursing home residents were most likely to take unnecessary medications. Common medicines that senior residents receive include psychotherapeutic drugs, gastrointestinal agents, pain relievers, antibiotics, and cardiovascular drugs. Talk to a Los Angeles polypharmacy lawyer could help you determine if improper care resulted in your loved one becoming sick from receiving too many drugs in a nursing home.
Role of Healthcare Providers to Minimize Polypharmacy
Healthcare providers should have adequate knowledge about potential drug interactions and their side effects. Nursing home residents should also have a care plan that includes a periodic review of their medication regimen. Based on this, care providers should stop any unnecessary medication that does not align with a patient’s care goals. They should be responsible for observing how residents react to drugs and whether polypharmacy is a possible cause for mood or health condition changes.
To further reduce the risk of polypharmacy in a nursing home, the staff and healthcare specialists must facilitate good communication and instruction when it comes to administering medications. They should help residents understand the importance of adhering to any medication regimen, as well as taking the time to discuss vital matters such as dosage, dietary restrictions, potential side effects, and the reason for the prescription. Overall, healthcare providers play a central role in the prevention of polypharmacy and the management of medications in nursing homes.
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Nursing Homes Can Be Liable for Negligent Polypharmacy
Nursing homes must exercise a minimum standard of care for their residents, which includes exercising vigilance when giving medications. Staff members should take care that drugs do not get mixed up, and patients follow proper dosage.
You may have grounds to hold a nursing home liable for any adverse effect from polypharmacy if negligent care occurs. A Los Angeles polypharmacy lawyer can further explain accountability issues and what compensation may be available to you. Remember that when a nursing home has breached its duty of care to residents, it is not your fault, and you may have the right to recover financial costs.
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What You Can Do to Protect Your Loved One
One of the best ways to keep your loved one safe is to visit the nursing home frequently. You can monitor your loved one’s overall well-being and observe any changes or signs that may indicate polypharmacy:
- Weight loss
- Incontinence and diarrhea
- Bruising or fractures from falls
- Behavioral changes
You can also consult with a polypharmacy attorney to learn about other ways to help your loved one.
Find Out if You Have a Case
Pintas & Mullins Law Firm understands that you only want the best for your loved one. We can offer you legal guidance and representation and help protect your loved one if you think a nursing home facility was negligent in its duty to provide quality care by engaging in polypharmacy. Call us today to get in touch with our team and schedule a free consultation.