CMS Initiative Seeks to Reduce Misuse of Antipsychotics in Nursing Homes

On March 29, 2012, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a new initiative to reduce the use of antipsychotic medications on nursing home residents. In a previous entry, I discussed the dubious practice of using powerful antipsychotic drugs on nursing home residents who do not need them for treatment. Some facilities do this to control their more combative residents as the drugs have a calming effect. This problem has gone relatively unchecked and is both a form of nursing home abuse and of medication negligence.

In response to this nursing home abuse, CMS is currently working to develop a national plan to enhance care and eliminate the unnecessary use of antipsychotic medications. This plan will include public reporting, increasing public awareness of the problem, regulatory oversight, technical assistance, training, and research.

State survey officials are among those for whom this training is intended. The information is designed to help them to identify the abuse and misuse of antipsychotic drugs so that it can be reported to the proper authorities and addressed. For this reason, family members of nursing home patients are encouraged to view the online training as well.

Elder care advocates have called for CMS to stop reimbursing homes for treatment if they improperly use antipsychotic drugs on their residents. This may be an important step in combating this type of nursing home abuse.


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