The improper use of anti-psychotic medications in nursing homes
is a disturbing trend that is more an act of abuse
than the negligence that typically leads to medical error.
These are drugs that may be properly prescribed to treat psychotic disorders, such as schizophrenia, delusions and hallucinations.
But because they are calming or immobilizing, anti-psychotics are often improperly administered to nursing home residents
, particularly those who are seen as problematic because of their behavior. In many cases, anti-psychotic medications are used to calm and immobilize residents who suffer from dementia
, which can cause oppositional behavior and aggression, agitation and wandering.
In a major report
released in 2014, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) said as many as 1 in 4 nursing home residents receive at least one antipsychotic medication
, and many of those residents have dementia. These medications are being used inappropriately
, for too long and at too high a dose, CMS said.
Anti-psychotic medications can have serious side effects, and the Food and Drug Administration has warned medical professionals of an increased risk of death in elderly patients receiving antipsychotic drugs to treat dementia-related psychosis.
FDA studies found increased risk of heart failure and pneumonia, as well.