The Danger of Anti-Psychotics
Reducing the use of anti-psychotics in nursing homes has been a focus of nursing homes and federal officials for over a decade. 300,000 nursing home residents are given anti-psychotic drugs each week, even though most have no psychosis to justify it. Since the beginning of the Trump administration, nursing homes rarely pay a price for dangerous misuse of the drugs.
The FDA only approves anti-psychotics for residents with serious mental illnesses, such as schizophrenia. The fatal danger of these drugs to older adults is well known. Nursing homes know these unsafe medications increase the risk of death in older people, especially those with dementia. They even come with black box warnings from the FDA. Nursing homes should rarely use these medications, and never with residents with dementia.
“Under-Enforced and Over-Prescribed”
Meanwhile, Trump refuses to enforce the safety rules and punish those who violate them. A recent report shows that Trump issued far fewer citations for anti-psychotic misuse. The findings revealed that about 20% of all residents received some form of anti-psychotic medication in the fourth quarter of 2019. Just 2% of residents had qualifying conditions for the drugs, according to the report.
Despite the discrepancy, citations for anti-psychotic misuse in SNFs fell 22% between 2017 and 2018. Violations increased 200% between 2015 and 2017. Additionally, 10% of citations associated with Actual Harm or Immediate Jeopardy concerns, between 2017 and 2018, resulted in no provider fine.
The report concludes that high rate of anti-psychotics use in nursing homes shows that facilities continue to use these dangerous drugs as a chemical restraint which will harm hundreds of thousands of patients. In 2012, the cost to Medicare Part D was $363 million. The unnecessary use of anti-psychotics can also contribute to falls, which cost Medicare more than $50 billion annually. The use of anti-psychotics in unnecessary. They are used to control residents instead of providing safe staffing.