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Oklahoma governor signs bill to protect nursing home residents

Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt has signed into law a bill that, in most instances, ban antipsychotic drugs from being given to residents of nursing homes – an action that drew the applause from AARP Oklahoma.

The law will go into effect on Nov. 1.

Senate Bill 142, which was written by state Sen. Stephanie Bice, will make it illegal for nursing homes to use the drugs unless a patient had a prior diagnosis of a psychotic disorder, in most instances.

If the nursing home gives the resident the drug in an emergency, a doctor must conduct an examination to confirm the diagnosis, under the law. Otherwise, the resident or someone with their medical power of attorney must sign a consent form before the drug is given.

"AARP Oklahoma applauds Gov. Stitt and the legislature for taking action to reduce the inappropriate use of antipsychotics and chemical restraints on nursing home residents," the AARP Oklahoma state director told the Tulsa World. "With the passage of Senate Bill 142, Oklahoma's most frail and vulnerable will now be treated with the dignity and respect they deserve."

The organization reported that Oklahoma nursing homes administered antipsychotic drugs to more residents than homes in any other state.

"I am thankful for the governor's signature on this important legislation," Bice said. "I am proud to be protecting Oklahoma seniors from being unnecessarily medicated in nursing homes across Oklahoma."

Abuse and neglect of vulnerable residents of nursing homes is a concern across the nation. It is gratifying that Oklahoma legislators acted to attempt to curb the administration of medication that isn't needed. But that is just one area in which our seniors could be harmed. If your loved one lives in a nursing home and you fear they are being harmed in some way, a consultation with an attorney could help you to learn about your options.

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