Nursing homes across the United States routinely give antipsychotic drugs to residents with dementia to control their behavior, despite rules against the misuse of drugs as “chemical restraints,” Human Rights Watch said in a report and video released today. This abusive practice remains widespread, even though the use of antipsychotic drugs on older people with dementia is associated with a nearly doubled risk of death.
The 157-page report, “‘They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia,” estimates that every week in US nursing facilities, more than 179,000 people, mostly older and living with dementia, are given antipsychotic drugs without an appropriate diagnosis. Facilities administer these drugs in many cases without obtaining informed consent from residents or their families.
The report is based on visits by Human Rights Watch researchers to more than 100 nursing facilities in six states and more than 300 interviews with people living in facilities, their families, staff, long-term care and disability experts, government officials, and advocates.