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Improper Administration of Medication: Types of Elder Abuse

By Sean Burke on March 30, 2018

Holding an elderly person's handsWe place a lot of trust in people who work at nursing homes. There’s an expectation that our elderly loved ones will be looked after properly, with all their needs met during their golden years. That’s not always the case, unfortunately. Different kinds of elder abuse may occur at assisted-living facilities. Our Orange County, CA nursing home abuse lawyers can help.

Most people think about abuse in terms of physical violence, but that’s just one type of harm that senior citizens may face. We want to consider the ways that medication can be used to inflict harm on residents in a nursing home.

Medication Issues as a Form of Abuse

As people get older, they may rely on various kinds of medications in order to function properly throughout the day. These medications may help with pain relief, which is important when people suffer form severe arthritis. Medications can also promote proper function of organs or manage the symptoms of a medical condition, such as hypertension, Parkinson’s, or dementia.

Given the importance of these medications in the lives of elderly people, the potential for abuse and causing harm through medications is high.

Withholding Medication

One type of elderly abuse involving various drugs is to deny or withhold medication from an elderly person. If a person is denied their proper medication during the day, they may experience pain, discomfort, distress, and other wellness issues. Suffering inflicted on someone in a nursing home cannot be tolerated.

Giving the Wrong Medication

Another form of elderly abuse is intentionally giving a patient the wrong medication. Mixing up meds or switching meds between patients can have dangerous side effects. In some cases, the mixing of medications can lead to life-threatening contraindications.

Improper Dosage of Medication

Related to the previous examples, there’s also an issue of medication dosage. Giving a patient too much or too little of their normal medication can lead to various problems. Too much of a drug could result in serious side effects, and too little could mean a patient is not experiencing optimal benefits of the drug.

Using Medication to Silence or Coerce

In all of the above cases, these medication-related types of abuse may be used to silence elderly residents. In other words, if a nursing home resident speaks out about abuse or mistreatment, they may have their medications withheld. The threat of medication tampering can also be used as a means of coercion. Neither is acceptable, and is a form of psychological abuse.

Warning Signs of Elder Abuse

If you notice your loved one is acting withdrawn, stressed, or depressed, this may be a sign of abuse. Also note any bruises or injuries, alarming changes in health or behavior, or any changes in appearance, such as dirty clothes, disheveled hair, and weight loss. These can all be signs of something wrong at the nursing home.

Speak with a Nursing Home Abuse Lawyer

If you notice any of those warning signs, it’s important that you withdraw the loved one from the facility and contact law enforcement. Speak with an attorney at our law firm to see if a lawsuit can be filed against the facility for putting your loved one and others in danger. We are here to fight for you.

Learn More About Your Legal Options

To learn more about your legal rights and options if a loved one is being abused in a nursing home, be sure to contact the attorneys of Burke Law. Our team of attorneys is here to help your family in your time of legal need.

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