As a nursing home resident, you have the right to make your own decision regarding your care. That includes which medicines or treatments you take. You have the right to ask questions about all your medicines, and to receive answers to your questions. You have the right to refuse any medications, even if your doctor, nursing home, family, or legal guardian agree you should take the medication.

Sometimes doctors will prescribe certain medicines to control behavior or mood because the staff thinks someone is being difficult. This is called a Chemical Restraint, and there are regulations against using medicine this way. The FDA warns against them especially for people with dementia, because they increase the risk of life-threating side effects or even death.

According to the FDA approximately 15,000 nursing home residents die each year from being given unnecessary medications or medications to chemically restrain them.

The Joint Commission Campaign states: If you do not want to take a medication remember to SPEAK UP

S: Say what is on your mind. State your concerns if you do not recognize a certain medication or a new medication.

P: Pay attention to the medications you are given to prevent potential errors.

E: Educate yourself on what medications you take and your treatment plans. Your doctor is required to tell you and your family about any new medicines, or any medicine changes, and the reason for the changes.

A: Ask questions. Ask someone you trust to help you talk to the nursing home if you aren’t comfortable by yourself.

K: Know all about your medications. Talk to your doctor about the reasons for the medicines. You have the right to read and understand all the instructions and side effects before you take anything.

U: Use a quality provider you trust. You have the right to get a second opinion from another doctor. Always make the choice that is best for you.

P: Participate in all decisions made about you and your care. Nursing homes have regular meetings about your care, and you and your family have a right to participate in those meetings.

If you have any questions about your medications, or any of the care you receive at your nursing home, you can contact your Ombudsman to help you. Your Ombudsman is an advocate for you, and only you.

Your Ombudsman is:

Waynanne Caudill

Legal Aid of the Bluegrass

District LTC Ombudsman

546 East Main Street Ste #1

Morehead, KY 40351

606-674-8921 ext 2127