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Study Finds Antipsychotics Often Prescribed to Veterans Who Suffer From Dementia at VA Nursing Homes in Maine and Nationwide

1342515_flag sxchu username linder6580.jpgA study recently conducted by researchers at the University of Pittsburgh and the Veterans Affairs (VA) Pittsburgh Medical center reportedly found that antipsychotic drugs are commonly used to treat veterans who reside at VA Community Living Centers in Maine and throughout the nation. The study claims approximately one in four VA nursing facility residents aged 65 and above received an antipsychotic medication between January 2004 and June 2005. According to study authors, about 40 percent of those patients received an off-label prescription. This means the patient had no documented Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved reason for receiving an antipsychotic drug.

The University of Pittsburgh study allegedly found that the rate of off-label antipsychotic use in VA skilled nursing facilities is similar to that in non-VA long-term care facilities. Study authors reported that dementia patients were most likely to receive an off-label prescription for an antipsychotic pharmaceutical. In fact, researchers claim that about 66 percent of the veterans profiled in the study who suffered from a dementia disorder were prescribed an antipsychotic drug. Veterans who exhibited aggressive behavior were reportedly three times more likely to receive such a drug. Additionally, VA nursing home residents who were on other medications such as antidepressants were allegedly more likely to receive an antipsychotic.

The results of the study are troubling because antipsychotic pharmaceuticals are allegedly associated with an increased death rate in elderly dementia patients. In 2005, the FDA issued a warning against using such medications in seniors suffering from a dementia disorder. Because much of the data analyzed was collected prior to the FDA’s warning, it is unclear whether off-label antipsychotic use currently continues at the same rate in VA facilities. The VA is allegedly attempting to address the use of antipsychotics in agency nursing homes located throughout the country.

Many citizens in Maine turn to skilled nursing or assisted living facilities when loved ones are no longer able to care for themselves. Sadly, some nursing home residents are abused or neglected by the very people tasked with providing their care. Long-term care facility patients may experience over-medication, broken bones, bedsores, verbal abuse, theft, and other abuse. In addition, simple neglect due to insufficient or poorly trained staff happens in nursing homes all too frequently. The State of Maine has established special procedures for bringing a negligence or abuse claim against a skilled nursing or other health care facility. If you believe a friend or family member was the victim of neglect or abuse while residing in a long term care facility, you should contact a skilled nursing home neglect lawyer to discuss your concerns.

If someone you care about was the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, call Briggs & Wholey toll free at (888) 596-1099 today. The capable Portland nursing home neglect attorneys at Briggs & Wholey have more than 50 years of combined experience helping those who were hurt by someone who was tasked with their care receive the compensation they deserve based on the severity of their injuries. At Briggs & Wholey, our hardworking team of lawyers is available to answer any questions you may have and help you file your case. Our experienced attorneys represent injured clients and their loved ones throughout the State of Maine. To schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable lawyer, contact Briggs & Wholey through our website.

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One Injured in Union Rollover Accident, Maine Personal Injury Lawyers Blog, December 4, 2012
Additional Resources:

Off-Label Antipsychotic Use Common in VA Nursing Home Residents, Pitt Study Finds, University of Pittsburgh Press Release dated November 1, 2012
Photo credit: linder6580, Stock.xchng