“We went down from about 33 percent [of our patients given these drugs] to about 3 percent.” It seems hard to believe that a nursing home administrator would admit to having 30% of his or her nursing home residents being administered unnecessary antipsychotic medications, but it seems as if that’s exactly what happened during an interview with the North Jersey Record.
The article focuses on the positive aspects of the reduction of antipsychotic drugs, but it begs the question how and why these drugs were prescribed in the first place.
Regular readers of this blog know that I have been following over-prescription of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes since the issue was first raised by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in April of last year.
In the early days of nursing home neglect, physical restraints were used to trap unruly nursing home residents in their beds or wheelchairs. It was a disgusting spectacle that lead to regulations limiting the number ways nursing home restraints could be used.
With the advent of antipsychotic drugs, nursing homes found a new way to keep residents with dementia calm and cooperative. The problem is that dementia isn’t a psychosis, and antipsychotic drugs have been linked to a rise in fatalities when prescribed to Alzheimer’s disease victims.
Prescribing an antipsychotic drug to an Alzheimer’s victim is a medication error and a sign of nursing home neglect.
Nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease can be difficult. In addition to the well publicized loss of memory, Alzheimer’s can cause profound changes in personality and behavior. However, that’s no excuse for medication errors and nursing home neglect.