Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Drug Deaths Rising in Nursing Homes

In a nursing home on the southern end of California's Central Valley, three elderly dementia patients died during 2007. Normally, that would not make the headlines. But these patients died after being given powerful antipsychotic drugs to control elders behavior--despite warnings the drugs increase the risk of death in elders with dementia.
Mae Brinkley, 91, Joseph Shepter, 76, and Alexander Zaiko, 85, died at the Kern Valley Hospital, a 74-bed skilled nursing facility in rural Lake Isabella, about 30 miles northeast of Bakersfield. Their cases came to light after a long-term care ombudsman reported to the state Department of Public Health that a patient had been held down and forcibly injected with an antipsychotic medication.
Investigators later found the nursing facility had given 22 patients, some with Alzheimer's disease--the most common form of dementia--high doses of antipsychotic medications to control them for the convenience of staff, according to court papers and the Center for Medicare Advocacy.
Now facing criminal charges are Hoshan Pormir, MD, the patients’ physician, Gwen Hughes, director of nursing, and Debbi C. Hayes, a pharmacist. The charges include three counts of elder abuse resulting in death, five counts of nonfatal elder abuse and two counts of assault with deadly weapons--the psychotropic medications Zyprexa and Risperdal, according to the state's criminal complaint.

Abuse of Mind-Altering Drugs Rising in Eldercare Facilities - New America Media


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