It’s a mouthful: the “National Initiative to Improve Behavioral Health & Reduce the Use of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Home Residents.” I think the Centers For Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) could use a new marketing team. NIIBHRUAMSHR just isn’t catchy.
Joking aside, the purpose of the initiative is welcome. Nursing home residents suffering from Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia can prove difficult to take care of. They can quickly become angry, confused, frightened, or overwhelmed. Sometimes they strike out at caretakers, especially when they are unfamiliar.Antipsychotic medications calm these attacks, but they also contribute to the deaths of dementia patients. Drugs that were identified with increased mortality included Zyprexa, Abilify, Risperdal, and Seroquel.In addition, a Health and Human Services (HHS) report indicated that improper use of antipsychotic drugs cost Medicaid over $230 million a year.Sometimes medication is necessary, but it doesn’t need to be the first option when dealing with a person suffering from dementia. There are simple techniques that don’t involve medication that should be attempted before a medical option is exercised. The mention of a relative’s name, a walk around the facility, or a cool drink can be just as effective as a dangerous drug.All of these steps take time and patience. Nursing home administrators typically prefer the chemical solution. Heavily sedated residents are easy to care for.If you have a loved one who is in an Illinois nursing home and is being prescribed Zyprexa, Abilify, Risperdal, or Seroquel and is suffering from dementia, you should contact my law offices and speak to me or one of my representatives. Together we can decide what actions, if any, you should consider. Nursing homes do not have the right to drug the people in their care simply because it’s easier than hiring an adequate number of staff.