Three California nursing home employees were arrested yesterday for allegedly injecting 22 residents with mood-altering drugs to keep them quiet and restrained. According to the criminal complaint, a nursing director, a pharmacist, and a physician drugged the residents in order to keep them compliant and easier to care for. Three of the patients died.
“These are powerful medications that were given, in some cases against people’s will, primarily for management, not health reasons,” said California Attorney General Jerry Brown. “It’s unconscionable behavior and it’s certainly not what people expect when they entrust their parents or grandparents to a skilled nursing home.”
The allegations in the criminal complaint are appalling, including residents becoming “zombie-like” and unable to eat or drink for days, causing severe malnutrition and dehydration. The three residents who died were Fannie May Brinkley, Eddie Dolenc, and Joseph Shepter. At least one civil lawsuit has been filed as a result of the deaths, and more are expected.
The use of powerful narcotics as chemical restraints is an ongoing problem in nursing homes. Under California law, a resident, or his/her responsible party must be thoroughly informed about the risks associated with anti-psychotic medications, and must approve any request for us. These medications must also be administered only with a doctor’s order.