Hospitals and Nursing Homes Over-Prescribing Meds to Seniors

The opioid epidemic is very real in Ohio. People are dying every day due to overdoses on prescription opioids or heroin. The blame has been placed on doctors who have over-prescribed these medications in staggering amounts.  In some cases patients were prescribed opioids when they didn’t need them in the first place. Lately, a new issue has appeared on the scene. Hospitals and nursing homes are now over-prescribing these medications to seniors. The elderly are far more vulnerable because they often cannot make decisions on their own. Someone has to watch out for them and speak up on their behalf, when something does not appear right.

Medications Used to Treat Pain

Statistics show roughly 70% of people in nursing homes report high pain levels. As a result, the medical professionals who serve them prescribe them opioids.  Are these patients cognizant enough to  verbalize that they’re in pain? Are the caregivers encouraging them to ask or take these meds in order to keep their shift quiet? Is it breakthrough pain caused by taking too many opioids? This is a condition occurs when the brain gets used to opioids and as a result, makes the pain worse. Taking fewer opioids reduces their pain levels.

No matter the reason for the prescriptions, what’s clear is that too many senior citizens in hospitals and nursing homes are being given too many of them. Yes, they may have valid pain and need something to help deal with it, but in many cases, there are other options, including over the counter pain relievers.

We Must Look Out for the Welfare of this Vulnerable Population

The best thing you can do is keep an eye on your elderly relatives. Relatives in nursing homes are still seen by in-house doctors or are transported to an outside facility for care. Go with them and be prepared to ask questions. If an opioid is prescribed, ask the physician if it’s truly necessary. It may not be. Also, if your elderly loved one has been on opioids for quite some time, ask if it’s possible to wean them off of the medication. You need to make sure that they’re receiving proper care.

Has one of your elderly loved ones been over-prescribed opioids? Call me today, and  I’ll Make Them Pay!®

Medical Malpractice