The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is noticing the overuse of antipsychotics in nursing homes, as previously discussed on this blog, and is launching a new program to do something about it. The Partnership to Improve Dementia Care is intended to address the overuse of antipsychotic drugs in elderly and vulnerable adult populations.
More than 17 percent of nursing home residents suffering from dementia received more than the recommended daily dose of antipsychotic medication in 2010. By the end of the year, CMS wants the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes to decrease by 15 percent.
"The drugging of nursing home residents has long been a national disgrace," noted legal director of the Civil Advocacy Program at the Legal Aid Justice Center Claire Curry. Curry further explained that some antipsychotics carry black box warnings that they can be fatal if used to treat a patient suffering from dementia.
Curry equated unnecessary drugging of a dementia patient to employing a chemical restraint. Using chemical restraints may amount to abuse or neglect by a nursing home facility.
The Partnership to Improve Dementia Care seeks to decrease the use of antipsychotics through:
- Training. Nursing homes should focus on high-quality care, not overmedication of residents.
- Increasing awareness about the overuse of antipsychotic drugs by adding data about a particular facility's use or overuse of the drugs on the Nursing Home Compare website.
- Encouraging use of alternative treatments such as exercise, pain management programs, scheduled activities and outdoor time for nursing home residents.
Overall, the program seeks to limit overuse of antipsychotic drugs in patients and residents who may not be able to communicate their own health and wellness needs.
Source: AZ Central, "U.S. program targets antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes," Steven Reinberg, May 31, 2012
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