Oklahoma’s new elder abuse law cracks down on the use by nursing homes of “chemical restraints” on their patients. According to America Nurse Today, chemical restraints are unnecessary medications used to “restrict a patient’s movement or behavior.” Importantly, these chemical restraints are not a part of a standard approved treatment. Most commonly, nursing homes use antipsychotic medications – powerful psychotropics with a variety of side effects, drug interactions, and risks.
While it is undoubtedly immoral and unethical to force someone without a proper diagnosis to take powerful mind-altering medications just to make them more compliant with nursing staff, the practice is sadly very common. According to Health Affairs, 14 percent of all nursing home patients are on an antipsychotic. The industry watchdog estimates that 83 percent of these prescriptions are for an unapproved or off-label use. A report by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services found that 40 percent of nursing home residents on antipsychotics do not have a diagnosis of psychosis.
To counter the scourge of chemical restraints meant to make elderly residents docile, Oklahoma is cracking down on the nursing homes. Under Oklahoma’s new law, a doctor must conduct a medical exam, diagnose the patient, and obtain informed written consent from the nursing home resident or their caregiver before writing a prescription for antipsychotics. After passing the law, Oklahoma’s governor noted that the state with the most nursing home residents on antipsychotics (20 percent) will now have the toughest law against it.
AAR Oklahoma applauded the state for its new law, as well as a host of other laws meant to crack down on the nursing home industry in the state. Nursing homes also appear to be on board, according to Tulsa World. Nico Gomez, CEO of Care Providers Oklahoma, which represents 200 nursing homes said she hopes the new law means “we are prescribing the right medications to the right person at the right time.” Elderly Americans do not deserve any less.
The attorneys at the Law Offices of Thomas L. Gallivan, PLLC work diligently to protect the rights of nursing home residents. Please contact us to discuss in the event you have a potential case involving neglect or abuse.