WASHINGTON, DC — The family of Sylvia Pierce, represented by Baird Mandalas Brockstedt, LLC, and AARP Foundation Litigation, filed suit against Genesis Healthcare, Inc., and others for administering dangerous drugs to her while she resided at their nursing facility and for providing negligent care and treatment which injured her and lead to her death. The drugs were administered to Mrs. Pierce without legal consent from her children Robert Pierce and Sandra Ahn who held medical powers of attorney and were the only people who could have agreed to the use of the drugs because their mother lacked
Mrs. Pierce was admitted to Milford Center, a Genesis Healthcare facility located in Milford, Delaware, in September 2014. Mrs. Pierce’s health deteriorated dramatically and she died less than two months after the facility staff began administering Zyprexa and other drugs to her that are intended to treat mental illness. Zyprexa can be fatal when given to elderly people with dementia like Mrs. Pierce. Milford Center never consulted Mrs. Pierce’s family before administering the drugs to her. Her family did not discover that the facility had changed her drugs until after she had deteriorated dramatically and irreparably.
“We are devastated,” said her son, Robert Pierce. “We put our trust in Genesis Healthcare and the Milford Center to care for our mother. Instead, they overmedicated her with drugs that had deadly consequences for her without my family’s knowledge or consent. We are filing this lawsuit with the hope of alerting other families to dangerous nursing facility treatment of people with dementia.”
Zyprexa is an atypical antipsychotic drug, a group of extremely powerful psychotropic drugs which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved for the treatment of psychotic conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Most importantly, the FDA has issued its most dire warning—known as a black box warning—that Zyprexa brings an increased risk of death for elderly patients with dementia-related psychosis.
“We are very pleased to join forces with AARP Foundation Litigation to represent Mrs. Pierce’s family,” says Chase T. Brockstedt, counsel for the plaintiffs. “Our firm is on the front lines of nursing home litigation in Delaware with the goal to protect the aged and hold those responsible for abuse and neglect accountable. This case is a tragic example of what happens when patient care is secondary to corporate profits.”
Inappropriate use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing facilities is a national problem. On March 29, 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched a national initiative to reduce the use of antipsychotic medications in nursing facilities.
“This litigation will raise awareness about the improper use of these drugs as chemical restraints in nursing facilities and the need for health care providers to have meaningful discussions with patients and their families about non-drug alternatives and the side effects of these powerful and potentially dangerous drugs,” says
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- AARP Foundation Litigation class action complaint Levine v. Venture Convalescent Center, January 30, 2014. http://www.aarp.org/aarp-foundation/our-work/legal-advocacy/info-2014/Levine-v-Ventura-Convalescent-Hospital.html
- AARP Foundation Litigation Keller v. Life Care complaint, December 2, 2014.
- Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes: These dangerous medications are prescribed at an alarming rate without the patient’s consent http://bit.ly/1naKlu5 (AARP Bulletin, July/August 2014)
- What Caregivers Need to Know About the Use of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes http://bit.ly/1jWLuYp
- What Caregivers Need to Know About Monitoring Medication for Nursing Home Residents http://bit.ly/1RpApLX
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