The Illinois Medical Board has suspended a psychiatrist’s license for reportedly overprescribing a potentially dangerous antipsychotic drug.
According to the Chicago Tribune, the state of Illinois recently suspended the license of a psychiatrist who prescribed a dangerous antipsychotic drug to his patients, including a number of nursing home residents. The antipsychotic, known as Clozapine, is widely considered an extremely hazardous drug of so-called last resort. Instead of reserving it for these types of rare cases, the doctor allegedly prescribed it to more than 50 percent of the patients in his care, which some say constitutes elder abuse.
According to the Illinois Medical Board, the psychiatrist’s excessive prescriptions were due to an illegal partnership he established with the drug manufacturer, in which he received $350,000 in payments for prescribing it. In doing so, he disregarded some of the medication’s dangerous side effects, including inflammation of the heart wall, seizures, drops in white blood cell counts and, perhaps most notably, an increased risk of death in elderly patients.
Three people died as result of the doctor’s actions in prescribing Clozapine, including a patient at an Illinois nursing home.
Elder abuse in nursing homes
Individuals living in nursing homes are particularly vulnerable when doctors and other medical professionals do not have their best interests at heart. When a physician, such as the recently suspended Illinois psychiatrist, prescribes a medication, many patients do not have the access or ability to get a second opinion. Some of these patients have reduced awareness and decreased cognitive function, and they rely on their doctors and other health care professionals to provide them with the very best possible care.
Unfortunately, elder abuse in nursing homes is fairly common. According to a government study prepared by the Special Investigations Division of the House Government Reform Committee, nearly one-third of U.S. nursing homes were cited for abuse over a two-year period. This includes physical, sexual and psychological abuse.
Some of the most common issues elderly people face in nursing homes include bedsores, inadequate medical care, dehydration, malnourishment and poor sanitation. These individuals are particularly sensitive to abuse, as they are often physically compromised and without the faculties to understand or combat the abuse. In 1,601 of the cases studied by the government, the abuse was serious enough to cause serious harm to patients – or even put them at risk for death.
The National Center on Elder Abuse reported that elders who are abused face a 300 percent higher risk of death than other elderly people who have not been abused. In addition, abused individuals tend to face a variety of health issues, including joint problems, digestive issues, depression, high blood pressure and heart disease.
When individuals are placed in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities, their families trust these medical care providers to administer the very best treatment. When this trust is breached, elders may be seriously injured, both physically and emotionally.
If you suspect a loved one has suffered abuse or neglect in a nursing home setting, speak with a dedicated personal injury attorney in Chicago as soon as possible.