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Misuse of Antipsychotic Drugs by Nursing Homes Could Lead to Penalties

Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson suggested recently that nursing homes that misuse and/or overuse antipsychotic drugs should be penalized by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. This proposition was discussed during testimony to a Senate Special Committee on Aging hearing. The hearing, called “Overprescribed: The Human and Taxpayers’ Costs of Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes,” also brought out expert testimony from physicians and nursing home advocates who talked about possible alternatives to medication for nursing home residents. Levinson’s studies show that misuse of certain off-label prescription antipsychotics has been connected to increased deaths in patients with dementia. Penalties suggested include withholding Medicare payments to nursing homes. Instead of medication, alternatives could include programs which would train and educate nursing home workers to identify dementia behaviors sooner. Experts also say if the underlying pain in dementia patients is treated, this type of management can lessen dementia symptoms such as confusion and agitation, which lead to aggressive conduct. The dilemma of nursing home workers’ over-dependence on medication is complicated by the fact that turn-over at nursing homes is so high. For more information, please go to: //tinyurl.com/846ggfn.