Nursing home abuse – Medications administered without consent are an assault
People with dementia are being administered medications to control their behaviour, but many may have been victim of an assault because consent was not first obtained.
A report by the Australian Aging Agenda on 21 March 2018 highlighted the issue of prescribing medications to people with dementia in order to control behavior. The dangers of prescribing antipsychotic medication have been known for numerous years. The Australian Aging Agenda report highlights that while rates of antipsychotic medication prescription have decreased, behaviours are still sought to be controlled by other medications.
Leaving aside whether or not the prescription is appropriate, the issue of prescribing medications to people with dementia in nursing homes to control their behaviour raises a fundamental issue: is there consent to administer the medication? If not, then an assault has occurred and this may attract criminal and civil consequences.
What did the article say?
ABC Law Report program
Every person has the right to choose or refuse medical treatment
What about a person with dementia?
Giving medical treatment to someone without decision making capacity
People in nursing homes are not subject to the same protections
No consent = assault = compensation
What is needed for a claim?
How much might a claim be worth?
Public interest litigation
Claims need to be brought to make nursing homes accountable for breaches of a fundamental right to bodily integrity. In addition to this, claims can raise the awareness of this issue which will hopefully lead to better laws to protect older Australians. The ABC Law Report program heard that a class action in Ventura County in the US was successfully brought by residents who were given antipsychotic medications without their consent. The ABC heard that this had a knock-on effect to nursing homes in the surrounding areas by causing an improvement their administration practices for antipsychotic medications.
Elringtons sent two solicitors to the 2018 National Elder Abuse Conference in Sydney. We are specialists in health and medical law. We know that we have an important role in protecting the rights of older Australians. Contact Matthew Bridger or Tom Maling to discuss your circumstances to see how we can help.
Further elringtons resources