The advances in medicine have created a new world in which many humans no longer have to worry about the diseases that have troubled mankind for centuries. Since that time, modern medicine has widened its focus in an attempt to treat everything from the common cold to Alzheimer’s. The ability to give someone a pill that can control his or her behavior has led to a number of new problems including prescription drug abuse, over or unnecessary prescription of certain drugs and nursing home neglect.
Massachusetts lawmakers have included a provision in the Senate budget that would require nursing homes and other long-term care facilities to receive written consent before prescribing certain drugs to their residents. Aimed at protecting and informing people with debilitating diseases and their families, the bill sets the requirement that a facility must have written consent from the patient’s family or guardian before it can administer doctor-prescribed psychotropic medicines. Such medicines have been overprescribed and used as a way to stop unwanted behavior in patients, even though the medications carry with them unwanted side effects that can affect a patient’s quality of life.
The bill, if signed into law, would help families understand the benefits and risks of any medication prescribed to their loved ones, thus allowing them to make the decision of what they deem best. Critics of the bill worry about those patients without families and the effect it may have on facilities admitting patients with cognitive impairments. This bill would be in addition to an already active program called Oasis, which seeks to educate staff about the problem of overprescribing medicine.
Nursing homes and similar facilities are supposed to be places that provide care and treatment for those who may no longer be able to care for themselves. If such places rely on medicine for control, they are doing a disservice to their patients and those that love them.
Source: WWLP 22 News, “Senate adopts check on drugs prescribed in nursing homes,” Colleen Quinn, May 30, 2014