State Investigates Nursing Home for Possible Negligence and Chemical Restraint

As nursing home attorneys in the state of Maryland and the Washington D.C. area, we have been following the recent Britthaven of Chapel Hill Nursing Home investigation where Alzheimer’s patients have tested positive for serious pain-management prescription drugs that weren’t prescribed for them, and that they weren’t supposed to be receiving.

According to a recent news article, the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) and the Attorney General’s Medicaid Investigations Unit have launched a criminal investigation of the nursing home to determine if the patients were being over-medicated, abused or neglected, or being subjected to chemical restraint.

The investigation began after three Alzheimer’s patients from the nursing home were taken to local hospitals after nursing home staff claimed the patients were acting in an unusual manner. The hospital officials contacted the police, and the state Department of Health and Human Services, and officials from Britthaven after their blood tests showed strong drugs in their system that were not prescribed to them as patients.

The nursing home officials then reportedly tested all of the nearly 25 residents in the Alzheimer’s unit for drugs. Six of these patients tested positively for opiates, the drugs often used for pain management. Three of the patients were subsequently hospitalized, one of which died two days later.

The SBI will investigate the possibility of nursing home abuse and neglect and chemical restraint—serious concerns at nursing homes with Alzheimer’s or dementia patients.

In a recent blog, our attorneys discussed reports that elderly residents in nursing homes with Alzheimer’s or dementia are often being given strong psychotropic drugs—leaving them with dangerous side effects like severe lethargy, tremors, and a high risk for falls or wrongful death. Nursing home violations involving drugs reportedly include unnecessary drugging, chemical restraint, dosages exceeding safety standards, and cases where dosages led to injury from nursing home resident falls.

Britthaven of Chapel Hill is reportedly taking the necessary precautions to ensure that residents remain healthy and safe at the home, and the Alzheimer’s unit is being carefully monitored. The nursing home staff members were reportedly all tested for drugs.

At Lebowitz & Mzhen Personal Injury Lawyers, we represent nursing home and assisted living abuse and neglect victims and their families who wish to recover personal injury compensation from a facility that has caused harm and suffering to an elderly or sick person during their stay. Contact us today.

State Launches Criminal Probe of Chapel Hill Nursing Home, WRAL News, February 19. 2010
Compromised Care: Psychotropic Drugs Given to Nursing Home Patients Without Cause, Chicago Tribune, October 27, 2009
FDA Warns Antipsychotic Drugs May Be Risky For Elderly, The Journal of the American Medical Association, May 25, 2005

Related Web Resources:

U.S. Food and Drug Administration, (FDA)

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