New Rule May Help Justify Antipsychotic Drug Use in Nursing Homes 

For some nursing home residents battling psychosis and severe mental disorders conditions such as schizophrenia, antipsychotic drugs may help when prescribed and administered responsibly. But for decades these narcotics that come with a “black box” warning and dangerous side effects have been overused in dementia residents to hush or lessen their needs on nursing home staff, despite rules against the misuse of these drugs as chemical restraints and drugging patients without their consent.

Earlier this month, the Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a rule that could make the use of antipsychotic drugs such as Clozapine, Abilify, and others easier to come by through simplifying “the survey process and reduce improper deficiency citations, as well as remove potential obstacles for mental health professionals to provide quality care for residents.”

McKnight’s Long-Term Care News cited the 110-page CMS proposed rule as “updates governing the use of as-needed prescriptions for antipsychotics, a tool the agency had limited severely under Phase 2 regulations” in a an article posted online dated July 17, 2019. “CMS now says it will allow PRN (Pro re Nata) prescriptions for antipsychotics to run more than 14 days if an attending physician or prescriber documents the rationale in a resident’s medical record. They also must indicate the expected duration. That’s a reversal, with standards adopted last year requiring a doctor’s exam to prescribe as-needed medication for more than two weeks,” the feature continued to express.

Mistreated Antipsychotics Can Present Risk of Death to Dementia Patients

A 2017 review in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association reports that as many as 90 percent of nursing home residents with dementia will have at least one episode of concerning behavior mainly including:

  • shouting
  • crying
  • spitting
  • disruptive anxiety
  • throwing items
  • hurting themselves
  • verbal aggression
  • physical abuse

Nursing homes have to stop medicating residents with dementia to prevent these outcries and instead should look to alternative treatments. Staff can be trained in non-medicated therapies rather than sedating patients, especially when these drugs are known to cause sudden death and serious injury.

Over the past decade, physician advocates and families of nursing home residents have fought against the misuse of antipsychotic drugs. Unfortunately, CMS and the current administration may have just reignited that same fight.

Levin & Perconti: Attorneys for Victims of Nursing Home Abuse & Neglect

If someone you love is being given, or has been given, antipsychotic drugs and has been injured as a result, please contact the Chicago nursing home abuse and neglect attorneys of Levin & Perconti. For thirty years, we have successfully defended the rights of the elderly against nursing homes that feel drugging a resident to make their job easier is allowed.

Let us help serve the justice deserved. Call us now at (312) 332-2872 or complete our online case evaluation form for a FREE consultation with one of our nursing home abuse attorneys.

Also read: Congressional Committee Leader Targets Centers for Medicare & Medicaid For Slow Changes of Antipsychotic Drug Use in Nursing Homes