A few months ago, we wrote about the dangers of overusing and improperly administering psychiatric drugs in nursing homes. Well, last week, U.S. health officials announced that they seek to alleviate some of these dangers by reducing the use of antipsychotics in nursing homes by fifteen percent before the end of 2012. This is a response to the rampant, wrongful use of these drugs to subdue dementia patients, and the risks that this abuse poses to their health and lives. If you believe that a nursing home is improperly or wrongfully providing medication to you or a loved one, here is an instructional guide on how to begin taking action. (see #9 for wrong medication issues)
To achieve their goal, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently launched a partnership with federal and state officials, advocacy groups, caregivers, and nursing homes, with the intention of providing better care to dementia patients in nursing homes. Antipsychotics certainly have proper and intended uses, including the treatment of schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, etc., but nursing homes have long administered these drugs to subdue dementia patients, which can have dangerous side effects, including death. Many nursing homes continue to disregard these risks, and routinely drug dementia patients with antipsychotics, perhaps because caregivers think the patients are too difficult to deal with properly.
CMS recently discovered that in 2010, daily doses of antipsychotics exceeding the recommended level were given to more seventeen percent of nursing home patients. There may have already been some rules in place to prevent caregivers from administering unnecessary drugs, and many of these antipsychotics explicitly warn of severe risks for dementia patients, but these rules were clearly not enough. This new partnership is a step in the right direction. CMS hopes to provide better training to caregivers, educate nursing homes on the use of antipsychotics, and provide alternatives to antipsychotics. Hopefully this will result in the desired fifteen percent decrease in antipsychotic administration, and more importantly, help provide better care for nursing home patients throughout the country.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a nursing home at the hands of nursing home caretakers, please contact Ed Fox & Associates today.