NPR: Nursing Homes Rarely Penalized for Too Much Drug Use

Despite national campaigns spearheaded by the U.S. government to reduce the use of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes, many states are rarely penalized for over-sedating their residents, according to a recent NPR report.

While antipsychotic drugs have been proven to help people with mental illnesses like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, they can be potentially lethal for older people, especially those living with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.

And even though the Food and Drug Administration has labeled these drugs with a black box warning, disclosing the increased risk of heart failure, infections and even death, almost 300,000 nursing home residents still receive them, according to an NPR analysis of government data.

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For nursing home providers that have yet to get onboard with the government’s initiative to reduce the use of antipsychotic meds in these facilities, NPR finds they are rarely penalized “when they don’t get with the program.”

One example is Texas, where data show more than a quarter of nursing home residents in the state still receive antipsychotic drugs. The national average, on the other hand, has dropped below 20%.

“That puts Texas in last place compared with other states and the District of Columbia,” NPR writes. “So Texas is playing catch-up.”

Read more at NPR. 

Written by Jason Oliva