Over medication could qualify as negligence, expert suggests

Date: May 08, 2013

Alzheimer’s Australia has suggested that medical negligence may be at play in some instances of medicine prescription for dementia patients, according to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald.

In the article, published on May 4, Alzheimer’s Australia national research manager Chris Hatherly referred to a recent review of patients and the medication they were taking.

It was found that a third of patients taking anti-dementia drugs were also taking medications – such as antipsychotic drugs – which cancel out their intended effect.

Mr Hatherly said that in such cases, there is the potential for battery or medical negligence claims to be made.

He said that in many instances, carers were not being consulted when medication was prescribed, leading to a possible breach of guardianship laws.

Another expert consulted by the Sydney Morning Herald said that people taking heavy doses of medication could enter into a cycle of physical decline.

“Well-meaning and sometimes not so well-meaning doctors are putting people on medications which may be hastening their transition from old, to old and frail because of the adverse effects of medication,” said David Le Couteur, president of the Australasian Society of Clinical and Experimental Pharmacologists and Toxicologists.

With the number of dementia patients expected to increase as Australia’s population skews older in the decades to come, care for such patients will likely be a hot topic.

In a statement released on April 24, Alzheimer’s Australia chief executive officer Glenn Rees said healthcare professionals need better training to care for Australians living with dementia.

“Unfortunately the fact is that time and again we hear horror stories about the inappropriate care received by people living with the condition especially in residential care,” said Mr Rees.

He said Australia had already shown it is “a global leader in the area of dementia care” and that it is critical doctors, GPs and nurses have the skills required to care for people at all stages of the disease, from diagnosis through to the end of life.

“Support from the government, better training for our healthcare professionals and increased awareness and understanding of dementia will help ensure people are diagnosed earlier, and receive higher quality care,” Mr Rees stated.

Where medical negligence can be proved, the victims may be entitled to compensation for their injuries.

Medical negligence lawyers are specialists in dealing with medical negligence claims and can provide helpful advice and guidance through this complex field of law.

Call us now on 1800 004 878 to book a free appointment with one of my compensation experts, or email your enquiry.