As San Diego medical malpractice lawyers, we are concerned by a new study
that found many children diagnosed with autism may be overmedicated. Researchers
found that many kids are prescribed cocktails of anxiety medications,
anti-depression drugs, and antipsychotics without any scientific data
that they work to treat autism.
The study used insurance data to examine 33,000 children with autism spectrum
disorders. Researchers found that 64 percent had filled a prescription
for a mood-altering medication, while 35 percent appeared to be taking
medications from two or more classes, i.e. an antidepressant and a stimulant,
simultaneously. An additional 15 percent filled prescriptions for drugs
from three or more classes at the same time.
“I was surprised at how extensively psychotropic medications are
used in children, even very young children, and how often children are
receiving more than one at a time without research showing effectiveness
or safety of (that practice),” senior author Dr. Anjali Jain told
While the researchers declined to conclude that the medications are prescribed
too often, they did note that it would be difficult for doctors to determine
if any one drug was working. “And some of these medications can
themselves cause symptoms like anxiety and agitation that mimic a psychiatric
disorder potentially leading to even more medication use,” Dr. Jain added.
Improper drug administration, such as overmedication, can be grounds for
medical malpractice in cases where the doctor is found to be negligent
and patient harm results. While relatively rare in children, it is more
commonly seen in nursing home patients.