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Plan Announced to Reduce Antipsychotic Use in Nursing Homes

Filed June 8th, 2012 Laurie

Nursing homes have been doling out antipsychotic medication to residents to control unwanted behavior in increasing numbers. Now, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) wants to reduce the use of such medications by 15 percent by the end of 2012. CMS has announced a plan to accomplish that goal.

The initiative was announced by CMS Acting Administrator Marilyn Tavenner on May 30. Tavenner said it is a partnership between federal and state governments, nursing homes, as well as healthcare providers, advocacy groups, and caregivers.

Antipsychotics – including the popular drugs Clozaril, Abilify, and Seroquel – are not approved to treat dementia, but they are increasingly being used to control dementia-related behavioral problems.

A 2011 report by the Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General (OIG) found that 14 percent of nursing homes residents with Medicare in the U.S. had claims for antipsychotics, and 88 percent of the atypical antipsychotics prescribed off-label were for dementia.
The “Partnership to Improve Dementia Care” initiative will:

  • Launch a training program aimed at teaching nursing home staff abuse prevention, and emphasizes high-quality care.
  • Compile data on each nursing home’s use antipsychotic use available on Nursing Home Compare starting in July 2012.
  • Emphasize non-pharmacological alternatives to handling dementia-related behavioral problems, including consistent staff assignments, increased exercise or time outdoors, monitoring and managing acute and chronic pain, and planning individualized activities.
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