In the interest of protecting nursing home residents, and all Americans, from abuses, including that of unnecessary drugging, we are huge advocates of staying informed. We’ve talked before about knowing the signs of abuse, the risks of dehydration, the frequency of injuries of all kinds, and the continued use of antipsychotics to control behavior. But in recent weeks an Assembly Bill was introduced as part of the fight to protect residents from over-drugging and unnecessary drugging. So we are revisiting the issue to keep you in the know. Here are 5 things you should know about AB 48.
The Issue with Antipsychotics
We’ve talked about this issue a lot, and it continues to be a hidden abuse among nursing home residents. The primary issue is that antipsychotics are used to control behaviors related to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and the frustrations of aging and loss of independence. Often, the drugs are not necessary, and recently it has been found that the excessive use of antipsychotics may be hidden in an over-diagnosis of schizophrenia. The issue is not that some may need these drugs, but rather that the many side effects often cause more serious problems, and doctors can be too quick to utilize them instead of finding other solutions.
What You Should Know About AB 48
This new Assembly Bill has been titled Nursing Facility Resident Informed Consent Protection Act of 2023. It will expand on the current laws regarding facility licensure and regulations, as well as resident rights. AB 48 will add that:
- Residents have the right to receive all information and material regarding their acceptance or refusal of the “administration of psychotherapeutic drugs.”
- The right “to be free from psychotherapeutic drugs used for the purpose of resident discipline, convenience, or chemical restraint, except in an emergency that threatens to cause immediate injury to the resident or others.”
- Prescribers are “responsible for disclosing the material information relating to psychotherapeutic drugs to the resident and obtaining their informed consent.”
- It is required that facility staff “verify that a resident’s health record contains a signed, written consent form before initiating treatment with psychotherapeutic drugs.” And that the resident be notified every 6 months of any changes and given the opportunity to revoke consent or refuse changes.
- Finally, AB 48 states that “willful or repeated violation of these provisions to be punishable as a misdemeanor.”
Uncovering hidden abuses is difficult, but with more awareness and more accountability among nursing home staff and doctors, we can help eradicate the overuse of antipsychotics.