McKnight’s had another article on the long-standing problem of nursing homes improperly sedating residents. This practice is known as chemical restraints. The misuse and abuse of antipsychotics is a well-known problem. Antipsychotic medications are dangerous for the elderly especially those suffering from dementia.
Long-term care clinical experts are acutely aware of the dangers of overprescribing antipsychotics, which are linked to increased risk of falls and deaths. The national campaign to provide safer dementia care reduced the drugs’ use but the problem remains. Often the use is worse in facilities with unsafe staffing.
“They’re in a really tough place because they’ve lost a lot of staff,” said Betty Frandsen, RN, NHA, president of MedNet Academy. This is probably what leads to people ordering more of these medications. … I can see where it could certainly have increased (during the COVID-19 pandemic).”
A 2020 study found the use of antipsychotics fell 40% in the last ten years. However, the N.Y. Times found that the reduction was due to a loophole. The loophole allowed nursing homes omit data among residents with schizophrenia. Of course, schizophrenia diagnoses jumped 70% during the period. Across the country, 1 in 9 nursing home residents now have schizophrenia, compared to 1 in 150 in the general population.