Mistreatment of patients in nursing homes remains a tragic and embarrassing blemish against the health care system in the United States, including in Oregon. At the heart of the tragedy is the widespread proof that elderly people in this country are not treated with the best care available, nor are they respected nearly as much as in other countries. Unfortunately, cases of nursing home neglect continue to be reported nationwide on a regular basis.

In one state, a family is suing a nursing home for medical negligence because its staff gave their decedent dangerous antipsychotic medications. The family alleges that the drugs were prominently labeled as risky for dementia patients. The decedent, a former elementary school teacher for 25 years, had been struggling with dementia recently but was allegedly functioning in some basic life activities. It is asserted that the woman had been hospitalized for constipation and impaction, and she was transferred to the nursing home shortly thereafter.

She died about two months after her transfer. The complaint also alleges that the staff over-medicated her to keep her docile and to prevent her from shouting out. One of the drugs, Zyprexa, has been approved for schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. The drug has been the subject of other lawsuits in the past few years that have challenged its safety for various reasons. In short, the family asserts that the staff did not administer the drugs for medical purposes; instead, they allege that the staff gave them to her to keep her docile and quiet.

The family's attorney is collaborating with the AARP Foundation Litigation in the matter. That fact likely indicates that the national lobbying organization for elderly citizens believes that there is a serious abuse of these drugs nationwide. Despite the woman's advanced age, an award in Oregon based on nursing home neglect under these facts could be substantial. That is because the reported cavalier approach of the defendant nursing home was likely motivated by a desire to give the drugs to keep the patient from being a distraction to the staff.

Source: delawareonline.com, "Suit: Nursing home gave inappropriate drugs to former teacher", Jen Rini, Sept. 12, 2016