A recent investigation by The Star has revealed that some long-term care homes are routinely providing anti-psychotic medications to aggressive patients in order to calm them down or stop them from wandering.
According to the investigation, across 300 nursing homes more than one-third of patients are being provided antipsychotic medications.
Medications such as olanzapine, quetiapine, risperidone, clozapine and more are being given to patients who do not necessarily need them. These drugs are not approved by Health Canada for use among elderly patients with dementia, which puts those who are using them at an increased risk of suffering serious or deadly side effects.
Drugs being used off-label such as what is happening with these anti-psychotic medications, means that the drug is being used for a condition or age group that it has not been approved for.
At Elm Grove, a nursing home in Parkdale than 50 per cent of residents receive antipsychotics while at Woodland Villa near Ottawa more than 60 per cent of residents receive these drugs. Just east of Ottawa, a home in Bourget is giving more than 72 per cent of their residents these risky drugs.
Liberal MPP Donna Cansfield headed the investigation and spent months obtaining the data. Its wrong. I think its too high. Im very concerned. We have a problem; we need to deal with it. Thats our responsibility as government, she told The Star.
According to Candace Chartier, CEO of Ontarios Long-Term Care Association, the organization knows that there is a problem and that they need to do better. However, no plan has been shaped nor is the problem being discussed with the public.
Data provided to The Star highlighted cases wherein seniors where prescribed these risky medications and suffered fatal falls, allergic reactions and possibly cardiac failure.
Nursing homes are required to obtain informed consent from patients or those acting as their guardians. Cansfield questions how many of these drugs were given to patients without their consent and how many family members were not notified that their loved one was being given these types of medications.
Statistics obtained by The Star show that antipsychotic medication use in nursing homes is more than twice the rate found in a recent U.S. review. After information in the U.S. was reviewed, the office of the Inspector General recommended that the government fix the issue right away.
How quickly the Canadian government of Health Canada will spur into action to protect our seniors is unknown.
If you have a loved one residing in a nursing home, don't hesitate to ask questions to the staff as well as your loved one about how they are being treated. Your loved one should never receive medication they, have not approved.