Despite widespread focus on the problem of the abuse of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes, a recent study by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has shown that 99% of American nursing homes failed to meet one or more of the requirements needed to prescribe these strong medications to their residents.
In order to treat residents with antipsychotic drugs, nursing home staff members must complete a four step patient assessment and care plan process. According to the study's findings, 18 % of all facilities failed to create planned interventions for antipsychotic drug use; 99% failed to engage in care plan development. The use of antipsychotics must be carefully monitored, particularly in elderly patients suffering from dementia, because the drugs have been shown to significantly increase these individuals' risk of death.
In response to the study findings, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have agreed to implement the following suggestions provided by the Office of the Inspector General for the HHS. The suggestions are:
- Improve detection of facility non-compliance
- Actively address non-compliance issues with warnings and/or penalties
- Provide methods for nursing homes to improve the development and effectiveness of resident assessments and care plans
According to the published report, "CMS has recently launched an initiative to improve behavioral health and dementia care and to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes by 15% by the end of 2012."
At Arnold & Itkin, our personal injury attorneys know that choosing a nursing home facility for a loved one is already a difficult process, and frightening information such as this can make the choices seem that much less appealing. We advise families to carefully research the drug policies and safety records of any nursing home before allowing a loved one to become a resident.
We also know that even when the greatest care is shown in selecting a nursing home, problems may still arise. If you suspect your loved one has been the victim of nursing home neglect or abuse, we can help. Contact our office today for a free consultation regarding your case.