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What can be done about overmedication?

There are many excellent caregivers for the elderly in Chicago, Illinois, and they are worthy of respect.

However, there are many workers in nursing homes who abuse or neglect the patients who have been entrusted to their care. That constitutes nursing home abuse, and patients, and their families, deserve better. One problem in nursing homes is overmedication.

What is overmedication?

Overmedication involves the overuse of certain medications. It can have severe effects on patient health, and even be fatal. For that reason, many long-term care facilities are working hard to prevent it from happening. One step that has been taken successfully has been reducing off-label use of anti-psychotic drugs for patients with dementia. Of course, there are many other steps that need to be taken.

What can be done about it?

One necessitates that family members of patients make sure that the patients bring complete lists of the medications they are taking every time they go to the doctor. The list must include all over-the counter and all prescription medications. Some of the medications may be contraindicated in the presence of others, which means that it may be dangerous for a patient to take Medication A if the patient is also taking Medication B.

What else helps?

Patients, and their families, should also ensure that there is comprehensive communication with each doctor they go to about both the intended effects and the side effects of each medication. That dialogue will help patients to understand why they need to take medications in the amounts that they are prescribed. That is critical, as too little or too much of any medication can result in harm to the patient, which is why doctors writing prescriptions need all the information they can get to make sure that the amounts they prescribe are just right. Patients and their families can help a lot by keeping meticulous records of when each medication is taken, how much of it is taken and how the patient responded.

Source: CareConversations.org, "Overmedication: Warning Signs to Watch For," accessed Dec. 22, 2017

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