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Nursing Homes Improperly Use Anti-psychotic Drugs, Investigation Reveals

Filed April 30th, 2012 Laurie

Anti-psychotic drugs are being wrongly used in nursing homes across the country. The Boston Globe released a study based on government data that shows facilities are giving the drugs to patients in an effort to control unwanted behaviors, but they should not be administering them at all.

At Ledgewood Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Beverly, Massachusetts, 19 percent of residents without a diagnosis for which the drugs are recommended are receiving the drugs, according to the Globe’s report. The drugs come with many harsh side effects and have the power to leave residents in a stupor. Among the medications’ unwanted side effects is dizziness, sudden drop in blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythm, blurred vision and urinary problems in people with dementia.

According to the Globe’s report, at five percent of nursing homes, anti-psychotic drugs are administered to people who do not actually need them. Those in the nursing home industry argue the drugs are necessary to keep people from hurting themselves or others.

Frank Grosso, vice president of pharmacy services at Genesis Health Care, told the Globe that patients are often given lower doses than are prescribed to people with psychoses, and the data does not always reflect that.

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