Fighting For The Elderly, Vulnerable and Injured.

Classic Signs of Polypharmacy

On Behalf of | May 11, 2020 | Recent Articles

I’m Wendy York from the York Law Firm in Sacramento.

A classic sign of polypharmacy is the use of drugs as a “chemical restraint.” How can you tell?

You’ll see a nursing home resident in a hallway with their head cocked to the side, their mouth open and drooling, and they have an empty stare in their eyes. Another tell-tale sign is when someone goes to see their loved one at a facility during the day and they have a hard time rousing them – they’ll be asleep, lethargic, or unresponsive during normal waking hours.

The real story in such cases is that facilities don’t have enough staff, so the staff is overworked, and it’s just a lot easier to drug ‘em instead of helping ‘em.

If you back chain in the records before such drugs are given, you’ll see a common series of events leading up. There will be comments such as:

“Resident wants to go out.”

“Resident wants to leave the building.”

“Resident won’t follow my direction or guidance.”

“Resident was agitated.”

Or, get this one:

“The 86-year-old resident is combative.”

It boggles my mind when I read that an 80 pound 86-year-old is “combative” with caregivers – but I see such comments all the time!

Fortunately, because of Federal and State regulations, there are legal protections that have been put in place for seniors in nursing facilities that are there to prevent what is known as “chemical restraints,” which means drugging residents for staff convenience.

These cases are what we call “polypharmacy,” and polypharmacy is also elder abuse.

These cases don’t have to happen. If you see signs of polypharmacy, give us a call. We may be able to help.


I’m Wendy York from York Law Firm in Sacramento. Thank you for watching.