Chemical Restraint

McKnight’s reported that alternative medications replaced dangerous antipsychotic medications among Veterans Health Administration patients. A new analysis shows Veterans nursing homes significantly reduced antipsychotic medication use.

A University of Michigan research team published findings in the American Journal of Psychiatry about antipsychotic use among Veterans Health Administration patients. Antipsychotic prescribing dropped from 33.7% to 27.5% from fiscal 2009 to 2018. Anxiolytic prescribing also dropped from 33.5% to 27.1% during the same time period. American Health Care Association had similar findings.

Michigan researchers found that the prescribing of anti-epileptics, antidepressants and opioids increased significantly. The overall prescribing of non-antipsychotic psychotropic medications grew from 75.0% to 81.1% from 2009 to 2018, data showed.

While antipsychotic prescribing decreased in VA nursing homes, this was matched by parallel increases in anti-epileptic, antidepressant, and opioid prescribing,” said Lauren Gerlach, lead author and an assistant professor at Michigan Medicine.

Replacing one chemical restraint for another one is not the solution. Safe staffing prevents unnecessary and dangerous drugs.

“Policies singularly focused on driving down antipsychotic use in nursing homes, without considering other medications in context, may contribute to increased prescribing of alternative medications that are less likely to help patients and are potentially just as dangerous,” she added.