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Can a Nursing Home Force Residents to Take Medicine?

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2022 | Family Law

One of the underlying pillars of biomedical ethics in the United States is autonomy. People have the right to choose what medication they take, and they have the right to refuse medication that they do not feel comfortable about. Unfortunately, nursing homes in the United States have a long history of violating this principle of autonomy. Elderly residents in these nursing homes are regularly overmedicated and “drugged up,” despite never actually consenting to this type of treatment. Make no mistake, this constitutes elder abuse, and nursing homes can be held liable as a result.

If you believe that your senior loved one is being overmedicated in New Jersey, reach out to an elder law attorney right away. Our legal professionals recognize that senior citizens deserve freedom of choice when it comes to medicine. With our help, you can fight for the right of your senior relative and hold negligent nursing homes accountable.

Residents Have the Right to Refuse Medication

Residents can refuse medication for a number of reasons:

  • Religious beliefs
  • Dietary restrictions
  • Inconvenience
  • Personal choice
  • Issues related to self-harm

Generally speaking, medical professionals must respect the decision of patients who refuse medication unless they are not of sound body and mind. If the patient is clearly not able to think clearly, then medical professionals may be justified in forcing them to take a certain medication. However, this poses a serious dilemma, as some would argue that the majority of nursing home residents are not able to think clearly. Many are suffering from cognitive issues, such as dementia or Alzheimer’s.

Conflicts of Interest

There are also concerns about conflicts of interest when it comes to the pharmaceutical industry and nursing homes. If you think about it, nursing homes are some of the best customers for drug companies that produce antipsychotics and similar drugs. New Jersey is actually one of the only states that has laws that discourage these conflicts of interest. In the Garden State, consultant pharmacists may not be employed by long-term care pharmacies. In addition, questions have been raised over whether or not antipsychotics are even the best choice for treating Alzheimer’s.

New Jersey’s Nursing Homes Have Come Under Fire

The Justice Department recently announced that it was proceeding with inquiries into nursing home policies in New Jersey and many other states. This came after New Jersey was accused of serious negligence as countless senior residents died of COVID-19 during the pandemic. We can only hope that during these investigations, the Justice Department will discover the rampant overmedication that has been occurring in nursing homes.

Enlist the Help of a Qualified Attorney Today

If you have been searching the New Jersey area for an experienced elder law attorney, call Giro, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We can help you fight for the rights of your senior family member. No one deserves to be “drugged up,” even if they are suffering from legitimate medical issues. Overmedication is a serious issue in the United States, and we can help you hold nursing homes accountable for this type of negligence. Book your consultation today.