A recent series of disturbing stories by NPR report finding with objective data what many of us practitioners know already – that in many substandard facilities residents are over medicated with sometimes dangerous medications just to keep them quiet. This is disturbing because these medications are sometimes powerful, dangerous, and ineffective. Some even get “black box” warnings from the FDA. It is a subject I’ve written about before and you can find the full article here.
The most recent NPR article points out that Texas ranks the highest in the United States for residents receiving anti-psychotic medications. Interestingly, Texas also has caps on non-economic damages of $250,000 – i.e., no matter how negligent a company is and how much pain and suffering they cause, they are capped at $250K in non-economic damages. Is this a coincidence?
With caps on damages, nursing home companies can more easily factor in lawsuits as a “cost of doing business” as opposed to spending more money to do right by people. With no caps on damages, juries are free to award what they believe are just damages based on the facts. The uncertainty of a jury verdict often forces companies to spend the money to do the right thing. With caps, they know exactly what they’re facing. It’s yet another reason caps do nothing but hurt people.
Knowing your resident’s medications and the side effects is important. Don’t be afraid to ask about them in care conferences.