Over-Medication Hospitalizes Three Alzheimers Patients in Nursing Home

State officials on Friday launched a criminal investigation of a nursing home where Alzheimer's patients tested positive for high amounts of pain-control drugs that they weren't prescribed. The State Bureau of Investigation and the Medicaid Investigations Unit of the Attorney General's Office were looking into possible wrongdoing at the facility.

The division's Nursing Home Licensure Section sent a team of inspectors to the facility on Thursday to gather information about drugs administered to Alzheimer's patients there. Three Alzheimer's patients were taken to hospitals on Sunday after nursing home managers said they were acting unusual. Hospital officials then contacted police, regulators with the state Department of Health and Human Services and nursing home administrators to express concerns about the patients' situation.

A  police report states that the primary concern was possible over-medication of the residents.According to police it was through testing of the residents blood samples that they determined the residents may have been given medications not prescribed to them.

Experts say abuse is a serious concern at facilities involving patients with Alzheimer's or dementia. The practice is called chemical restraint, and the director of County Senior Services said some cases are malicious while others are simply mistakes. The latter is especially true with elderly patients who have complicated drug regimens, she said.

On Wednesday, the nursing home tested all staff members of the Alzheimer's unit for drugs and sent them home. The results came back negative for all employees, but they remain on paid leave, a company representative said Friday. For more, read the story.

Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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