There are more than 10,000 prescription medications on the U.S. market, and thousands more over-the-counter drugs, vitamins, and supplements. Polypharmacy, defined as the regular use of five or more drugs, is an increasing health problem, especially among the elderly.
Polypharmacy is prevalent in nursing home facilities. Taking multiple medications can increase the risk for medication errors, adverse drug events, and injuries. There also is evidence of nursing home staff using medication to control residents’ behavior.
If your parent, spouse, or other loved one suffered a medication-related illness, injury, or death, polypharmacy could be the cause, and it could be a warning sign of more significant issues with your loved one’s care. A Savannah polypharmacy lawyer can help you learn more about the conditions that possibly caused your loved one’s injury. Call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm to discuss your case.
Risks Associated with Polypharmacy
The journal Quality and Safety in Healthcare estimates 800,000 preventable medication-related injuries happen each year in long-term care facilities. The prevalence of polypharmacy in elderly patients can increase the risk of drug-related complications, such as medication errors and adverse drug events (ADEs).
A medication error is any mistake that occurs along the chain from when a medication is prescribed to when it is administered to a patient. There are many types of errors, from being prescribed the wrong medication to being given the wrong dosage. Medication errors lead to ADEs, which can result in hospitalization, permanent impairment, and even death.
The Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality estimates about half of ADEs are preventable. Doctors need to be particularly vigilant for potential drug interactions when prescribing medication to elderly patients who take multiple drugs. Nursing home staff need to be sure they are giving patients the correct medicine, in the correct dose, at the right time of day. They also should be alert for any signs of an ADE.
Polypharmacy is known to increase a patient’s risk for accidents, injuries, and drug poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unintentional injuries are one of the five leading causes of death in the U.S. The CDC found that from 2010 to 2014, deaths from unintentional injury increased 23 percent, mostly because of an increase in drug overdoses.
Finally, and most sinisterly, polypharmacy sometimes is used to control nursing home patients to make them more docile. Specifically, some homes used antipsychotic medications to control patients’ behavior.
A 2018 report by Human Rights Watch found that nursing facilities give antipsychotic medications to 179,000 people each week who are not prescribed the drug. In many cases, these drugs are administered for their sedative effect without the consent of patients or their families. This practice is ethically wrong and medically dangerous, opening the door for injuries and ADEs.
If you believe staff negligence or wrongdoing caused your loved one to suffer a medication-related injury, a Savannah polypharmacy lawyer may be able to help. Call us today for a free case evaluation with a member of our team.
Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect
Medication-related illnesses could be a sign of nursing home abuse and neglect. Elder abuse in residential care facilities is all too common in our society, with some studies finding as many as 44 percent of seniors reporting abuse, and 95 percent reporting neglect.
The National Consumer Voice on Quality Long-Term Care points to the following warning signs:
- Unexplained cuts, bruises, sores, burns, or other injuries
- Excessive falls and accidents
- Malnutrition and dehydration
- Lack of assistance toileting or changing disposable diapers
- Lack of assistance with mobility
- Poor hygiene and lack of bathing
- Changes in behavior, such as becoming withdrawn, violent or aggressive, or losing interest in activities
Sometimes, neglect is unintentional and can be the result of overworked or poorly trained staff. Unanswered phone calls and lack of a response to call bells and cries for help could be signs your loved one’s nursing home is understaffed. Caretakers who are spread too thin may miss warning signs of complications from polypharmacy.
If you suspect abuse or neglect, contact the Georgia Department of Community Health, which regulates nursing homes, at (800) 878-6442. You may also want to file a written report with nursing home administration, the local police department, adult protective services, or an agency that advocates against elder abuse. If the situation is an emergency, call 911.
For a free legal consultation with an polypharmacy lawyer serving Savannah, call (800) 794-0444
What You May Recover
If your loved one suffered an illness, injury, or death because of complications from polypharmacy, their nursing home may be liable. A Savannah polypharmacy lawyer can help you seek awards for:
- Medical bills. This includes any costs related to treating your loved one’s injury, including doctor bills, hospital stays, surgeries, physical therapy, and more.
- Pain and suffering. Awards for pain and suffering compensate victims for physical and emotional harm. This may include stress, anxiety, mental anguish, or loss of enjoyment from life.
- Wrongful death. If your loved one died from their injuries, you may be able to seek damages on their behalf. You may also be entitled to awards for your pain and suffering.
Savannah Polypharmacy Lawyer Near Me (800) 794-0444
How Pintas & Mullins Law Firm Can Help
We believe abuse in all forms is wrong, and we want to help you seek justice for your loved one.
It is a horrible feeling to know that your loved one suffered at the hands of the people charged with their care. Those who harm the elderly and violate the trust of the families they serve should be held accountable for their wrongful actions.
Our legal team can help you investigate your claims of abuse and gather evidence to support your case, including medical records, eyewitness statements, and expert testimony. A Savannah polypharmacy lawyer can help you identify all liable parties and ensure you are seeking the financial award to which you may be entitled.
For more information about how we can work for you, call Pintas & Mullins Law Firm for a risk-free consultation.