Bring An Equalizer to the Fight. Choose a Firm That Was Created to Advocate for Victims.

Are Children With Autism Being Overmedicated?

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 Reuters.

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.