Antipsychotic Medication Overuse In Nursing Homes

The past couple of mornings, I have been hearing the same story in NPR that has really alarmed me since my grandfather once has spend some time in nursing homes. If you have loved ones in nursing homes you need to pay attention. According to the NPR news, over 300,000 nursing home residents are wrongfully getting antipsychotic medication for Alzheimer or other forms dementia for which these drugs can be deadly. The Food and Drug Administration has black box warning for this drugs saying that they can increase the risk of heart failure, infections and death.

In 2012 the federal government started a program to get nursing homes to stop using such drugs. Nevertheless, nursing homes rarely get penalized for not complying with the program. My grandfather spend some time in nursing homes after losing his leg to gangrene and we brought him home after several incidents with nursing home abuse and I cannot imagine someone else’s loved ones going through this.  Remember FDA did not approve the drugs to treat dementia. Nursing home residents should only receive antipsychotic drugs only medically necessary.

Our current federal law prohibits the use such drugs for staff convenience, known as “chemical restraints”. These drugs can abruptly change behavior, can cause sedation, and increase the risk of fall. This is a public health concern and we need to adequate action. If you have a loved one in nursing homes make sure if he staff tells you that the doctor prescribed a medication and asks you to sign a form, ask questions and don’t sign until you are sure of what medication the doctor described and what it is for. Remember, getting informed consent when prescribing antipsychotic drug is required by law. As a public health person I found this topic quite important and hence wanted to bring it to you attention. If you have faced any issues with nursing homes with your loved ones please don’t forget to comment. Happy reading.

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