Elderly Lives Matter®

Are Nursing Homes Wrongly Using Antipsychotic Drugs To Sedate Residents?

On Behalf of | Dec 22, 2023 | Nursing Home Abuse and Neglect

When used correctly, antipsychotic drugs can help stop some symptoms that afflict Florida residents. Unfortunately, they can also have harmful effects when misused, and some nursing homes may use them to make seniors and disabled individuals more compliant. When a resident of a nursing home without a mental disorder is given antipsychotic drugs when they are not the proper solution, it can lead to death and other harmful side effects.

The ongoing misuse of antipsychotic medications

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services launched a new investigation in January 2023 because of the ongoing misuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, but this is not the first time this issue has drawn attention from policymakers. In November 2021, the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General found that up to 20% of nursing home residents were on some form of antipsychotic medication while that number is closer to 1% in the general population. This is a long-standing problem. For example, in 1975, the Senate Special Committee on Aging found that an alarming number of residents were given tranquilizers to make them easier to handle. Furthermore, the Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General in 2011 found that nursing homes submitted payment requests for antipsychotic drugs for 14% of their residents, and 83% of those requests were for off-label use. Another study in 2019 by the Office of the Inspector General found that facilities with a lower nurse-to-resident ratio had a higher rate of using antipsychotic drugs off-label, and they also found that those facilities often served low-income residents.

Changes implemented to quality-care scores

CMS says that they will drop facilities found to be wrongly using antipsychotic drugs to a one-star rating because it is a form of nursing home abuse on the Medicare comparison site that families can use to compare nursing facilities, but do not look for changed ratings to show soon. After a facility is found guilty, it can appeal the finding, which can be lengthy. Officials also say they will start implementing fines against facilities where the problem persists.

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