Jessie Stagner lived to the age of 96 and likely could have gone on to 100 according to her son-in-law, but her life was cut short after she fell and broke her hip. While a fall can be detrimental to any elderly individual, Stagner’s son-in-law, Jerry Tindel, says there is an underlying reason to why his mother-in-law fell.
WFAA interviewed Tindel and he told the source that he blames the medication that had been prescribed to her which ultimately led up to her falling. He said that Stagner had been in good physical health prior to her death until she began showing signs of dementia. Dementia is “a term for a decline in mental ability severe enough to interfere with daily life” [Source: Alzheimer’s Association]. She went on to live in a nursing home in Austin, TX given her condition and shortly after, the doctor began prescribing her Risperdal, which is an antipsychotic medication.
 
But, Stagner wasn’t suffering from a psychotic condition.
 
Tindel said his mother-in-law became immobilized and couldn’t even walk without someone assisting her. He said, “she had lost her coordination” and began noticing a change in her mental state.” What Tindel didn’t know at the time was that Risperdal was never approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to treat symptoms of dementia. In fact, the FDA “had issued a black box warning” which is the highest level, “linking the drug to an “increased risk of death among elderly dementia patients.”
The source also interviewed Dr. Daniel Pearson, who is the head of psychiatry at Methodist Hospital in Dallas and even he said there are significant risks associated with taking the medication. He said there is an “increased risk of cardiac death, increased risk of falling, breaking a hip…” And that is exactly what happened to Stagner after she began taking the medication. And things only seemed to get worse after that until finally, Stagner passed away. But she isn’t the only nursing home resident who has been prescribed a medication that was meant to treat conditions other than the ones she suffered from.
Many doctors in various nursing homes all through the state of Texas are prescribing the drug to dementia patients to help calm them down despite the FDA’s warning. And after the news source conducted some research of their own, they determined that nine out of 10 Texas nursing homes admitted to using powerful antipsychotic drugs to treat conditions that are not approved by the FDA. In other words, they are engaging in off-label use, which isn’t exactly illegal. According to Michael Elliot, who is a former assistant U.S. attorney who specialized in healthcare, what is illegal is for a “drug company to market a drug for off-label uses.”
If you have a loved one who suffers from dementia and is living in a nursing home, be sure you find out what medications are being prescribed to ensure they aren’t being given something that could compromise their health and wellbeing.
And because Risperdal is used to treat patients displaying psychotic, or irrational behavior, doctors can justify using it to treat dementia patients who exhibit aggressive or violent behavior. The fact is, the drug has been promoted since 1993 and continues to be pushed onto doctors to prescribe it. At one point, the sales of Risperdal went from $892 to $2 billion. Sadly, the case of Stagner reveals just how serious the repercussions can be when an elderly individual is given a medication to treat something other than the conditions he/she is actually suffering from. And that is why if you have a loved one living in a nursing home in Dallas, TX that you monitor what is given to them to ensure they aren’t being over-medicated or provided with something that could potentially put their life at risk.
In the event you feel your loved one is being provided the wrong medication or has suffered because of a medication mix-up, contact a Dallas, TX nursing home abuse and neglect attorney to discuss how to handle the matter. Too many individuals are mistreated during their stay in a nursing home and it is vital that each case of mistreatment or neglect is addressed accordingly to ensure the inappropriate behavior is stopped.

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