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Feds Target Overuse of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes

Medicare warnings to nursing homes that are believed to engage in the overuse of antipsychotic drugs among their residents can help reduce these dangerous practices.

Some of the common medications that can be used on nursing home residents include quetiapine which is often used to help treat symptoms of anxiety, hallucinations and delusions among persons suffering from dementia.  Research  suggests that as many as one in every 7 nursing home residents is prescribed the drug.  While  the drug can be helpful in controlling the symptoms, it is not without its side effects which include kidney injury, heart   failure and an increased risk of strokes and blood clots.  According  to one study,  long term use of quetiapine is associated with a 62% increased risk in kidney damage and a 27% increase  in heart failure risks. These residents may also have a 65% increased risk of suffering a stroke.  Bone  fractures are also another huge risk with an estimated 43% increased risk among patients on quetiapine.

Officials at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services are currently investigating an increase in the use of antipsychotic medications at some nursing home facilities across the country.  As  part of the investigation, the agency found that more than 5,000 doctors were aggressively prescribing medications to patients at several facilities.  More  than 80,000 patients were receiving these medications.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent letters to doctors who are engaged in overusing these drugs at the facilities, and found that since these letters were sent out,  these nursing homes have not been prescribing the medications as much. According to the results of a new analysis which was published recently in the Jama Network Open, persons with dementia are being prescribed lower levels of the drugs, but with no significant impact on their symptoms. The agency found that after the letters were sent, there was a significant 7% reduction in the prescription of quetiapine for nursing home residents as well as an overall 15% reduction in the  prescription of the drug to persons in the community.

Unfortunately, in far too many nursing homes,  complex drugs like   antipsychotic  medications are used as a means to sedate patients, and not just as a means of managing dementia symptoms.  This  is especially more likely to happen in nursing homes with lower staffing levels that may struggle to handle persons who suffer from dementia appropriately. If your loved one is currently at a nursing home, look out for signs of excessive use of sedative drugs, including drowsiness, lethargy, confusion and disorientation.

The Atlanta nursing home abuse lawyers at Katz Personal Injury Lawyers are dedicated to the representation of persons who have suffered injuries as a result of elder abuse and neglect at   nursing homes in the metro Atlanta region and across the state of Georgia.  If  your loved one has suffered injuries as a result of nursing home abuse,   talk to an attorney at our firm and discuss his or her options for a claim for damages.

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