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Despite nursing homes being trusted to care for our elderly loved ones, seniors who live in them face a variety of risks, including the potential for nursing home abuse or neglect. While falls and abuse are two of the more widely known causes of nursing home injuries, adverse drug reactions are unfortunately also far too common. When nursing homes fail to take proper care and ensure medications will not interact with other medications in harmful ways, or otherwise monitor for harmful side effects, our loved ones suffer.
If your loved one has suffered from the side effects of Elavil or other medications, call Zinda Law Group today at (800) 863-5312 to schedule your free consultation with a skilled personal injury lawyer near you as soon as possible. If we cannot win your case, you will not owe us anything.
harmful drug effects on the elderly
Elderly Americans over the age of 65 only make up approximately 16% of the population, but they require much more medical care, including prescription drugs, than the average American. Indeed, almost 40% of older adults take 5 or more medications. Meanwhile, as many as 90% of adults over age 65 suffer from one or more chronic conditions, requiring specific treatments and medical care, including the use of prescription drugs. As a result, significant reliance upon proper medication as part of their overall treatment plans often places nursing home patients at serious risk if their caregivers are careless, fail to monitor for adverse effects, or fail to ensure medications will not interact in a harmful manner.
The risks posed by nursing home neglect only increase when one considers that the elderly population is expected to grow from 54.1 million in 2019 to about 80.8 million in 2040, or more than double the 35 million older adults living in the United States in 2000. As the number of elderly Americans continues to rise, so too does the risk that an older adult will be harmed by dangerous drugs or nursing home neglect.
One of the most common harmful effects that many drugs have on older adults is to increase their likelihood of falling; such is often the case with antidepressants, like Elavil. Each year falls remain the leading cause of nursing home injuries; according to one report, almost half of all nursing home patients fall every year, while approximately one-third of those patients who experience a fall will fall two or more times in that year. While there are many causes of falls in nursing homes, adverse drug reactions to specific medications are all too often the culprit.
why falls pose serious risks for elderly patients
Falls often have serious consequences, the risks of which increase significantly for nursing home patients. Older adults who have been injured in nursing homes often experience decreases in their overall quality of life as well as their ability to function or maintain the same levels of independence. Even patients who were not injured in their fall may self-impose limitations on their activity because of a fear of falling; this will at times impair the older adult. Other potential adverse consequences suffered by nursing home patients include:
- Serious, temporary or even permanent injuries
- Reduced quality of life
- Decreased ability to function
- Increased fear of falling
- Increased risk of death
when may elderly adults be at risk for adverse drug reactions?
While any older adult who is taking any medications may be at risk for adverse drug reactions, various factors increase the likelihood of adverse reactions, such as:
- The older adult’s medical condition
- If the patient has any conditions or diseases known as co-morbidities that may coexist with their primary condition or disease
- The dosage of the older adult’s medications
- If the patient is taking multiple medications
- The pharmacological properties of each medication
how medication can increase the risk for falling
In addition to harmful effects of some medications directly on the patient’s health, other medications may create additional health risks for older adults indirectly, such as by increasing their risk of falling. Indeed, many prescription medications can impair a senior’s alertness or thinking in addition to interfering with other medications. If these medications are also sedating drugs, a nursing home patient may be much more at risk of falling; fortunately, experienced nursing home injury lawyers can help you determine whether your loved one may have been taking medication that can increase their risk of falling.
Medications Which May Increase Risk of Falling
Some common sedating drugs that may increase an elderly adult’s risk of falling include muscle relaxers such as:
- Soma (carisoprodol)
- Flexeril (cyclobenzaprine)
- Robaxin (methocarbamol)
- Parafon Forte (chlorzoxazone)
- Skelaxin (metaxalone)
Other drugs which may increase the risk of falling, especially in combination with other medications, include mood-altering medications, such as:
- Elavil (amitriptyline)
- Valium (diazepam)
- Atarax (hydroxyzine)
- Meprobomate (barbiturate)
- Sinequan and Adapin (doxepin)
- Librium (chlordiazepoxide)
- Dalmane (flurazepam)
elavil and nursing home falls
Elavil, or amitriptyline, is an antidepressant commonly prescribed to nursing home patients to treat depression or anxiety. Elavil and similar drugs were long the primary treatment for elderly patients suffering from depression or mood disorders. Unfortunately, amitriptyline also significantly increases the risk of falls, Elavil side effects include:
- Blurred vision
- Uncontrollable shaking of body parts
- Weakness in the limbs
If your loved one was prescribed Elavil while in the nursing home and suffered a fall, you should contact the Elavil fall lawyers at Zinda Law Group as soon as possible to discuss your potential options for recovery. Your first consultation is free, and we would be pleased to discuss your case.
what is the process of a nursing home injury case?
As with other personal injury cases, your case may be difficult to prove and pursuing compensation will not be easy, especially without the skilled assistance of an experienced nursing home injury attorney. However, most claims for nursing home injuries will generally follow a similar process, and learning the steps will make the journey easier:
1. Seek Medical Treatment and Ensure Patient is Safe
First, if you or your loved one have been suffering adverse drug reactions or have been injured in a fall, seek immediate medical attention to make sure that no additional care is necessary to treat any injuries or damages. Given that nursing homes often have a significant amount of control over victims, some patients may not feel safe remaining in the nursing home where they were injured. As a result, in some cases, it may be necessary to quickly work to move your loved one into a new nursing home that will strive to prevent any additional harm, including falling or adverse drug reactions.
2. Contact a Personal Injury Attorney Immediately
As soon as possible after you or your loved one has been injured, contact one of the experienced fall lawyers from Zinda Law Group to discuss your legal options and who may be liable for the fall and any resulting injuries or damages, such as the nursing home, a negligent caregiver, or even the manufacturer of the drug in some cases. Your attorney may help you by conducting a thorough investigation to determine whether you may have a claim, as well as gathering any necessary evidence that may prove the other party’s liability for the fall. In some cases, your lawyer may also need to hire an expert witness to prove that the fall was not necessarily an unavoidable accident, such as when the older adult is suffering from adverse drug reactions to medication such as Elavil that have been shown to lead to an increased risk of falling.
3. Prove the Other Party’s Liability
As with most negligence cases, your nursing home injury attorney will generally need to prove four primary elements in order to substantiate your nursing home fall injury claim:
- The nursing home, caregiver, or other party owed a duty of care to you or your loved one.
- This duty of care was breached, such as by a caregiver prescribing too much medication to an elderly patient or simply failing to accurately and thoroughly monitor for and avoid any adverse drug reactions.
- You or your family member sustained injuries or other damages.
- The other party’s breach of their duty of care caused any injuries or damages suffered in the fall.
compensation for nursing home injuries
While each case is certainly unique and will depend on the individual facts and circumstances surrounding your loved one’s accident, you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation for a variety of damages suffered from an Elavil-caused fall in a nursing home, including:
- Any medical expenses incurred by the older adult, including any past or future treatment necessary to help your loved one recover from the fall or adverse drug reactions
- Any physical therapy that may be necessary to help the patient remain mobile and able to walk or otherwise get around independently
- Nursing home relocation if you determine that a different nursing home may be a safer option that will better care for your loved one
- Loss of quality of life, such as if your loved one suffers a serious and potentially permanent disability
- Pain and suffering, including any emotional anguish
Skilled nursing home injury lawyers can help you determine your next steps, whether you may have a claim, and how much compensation you or your loved one may be entitled to.
Contact a nursing home injury attorney near you today
When you make the difficult and deeply personal decision of trusting the care of your loved one to a nursing home, you expect the staff and caregivers to provide the necessary care, including by making sure your loved one has the proper medical care and that any medications they take are not causing adverse drug reactions. If your loved one fell in a nursing home, contact one of the experienced nursing home injury lawyers at Zinda Law Group as soon as possible to discuss your options, especially if the patient was taking any medications such as Elavil.
Your attorney can investigate the incident, including by examining your loved one’s medications and medical care to determine whether he or she may have been suffering from adverse reactions to medications that may have led to the fall. Call Zinda Law Group today for your free consultation with one of our personal injury lawyers; we would like to discuss whether you or your loved one may be entitled to compensation as well as who may be liable for your loved one’s fall. We can closely look at the nursing home caregivers and even the drug’s manufacturer in some cases.
Meetings with attorneys are available by appointment only.