Advocates Applaud New Federal Campaign to End Use of Antipyschotic Drugs as Chemical Restraints in Nursing Homes

Advocates Applaud New Federal Campaign to End Use of Antipyschotic Drugs as Chemical Restraints in Nursing Homes

Advocates for nursing home residents who have been working for many years to eliminate all misuse of antipsychotic drugs for nursing home residents applaud the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services’s
(CMS’s) new national initiative to address the drugging epidemic. CMS’s “National Initiative to Improve Behavioral Health & Reduce the Use of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Home Residents” will be announced via webcast on March 29, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. PST. “We thank former CMS Administrator Donald Berwick for his leadership in responding so forcefully to this national disgrace and for setting the wheels in motion to implement this long-overdue initiative,” said Janet Wells, Director of Public Policy, The National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care.

CMS is developing a national action plan that includes raising public awareness of misuse of antipsychotic drugs, regulatory oversight, technical assistance, and research. The Initiative will be launched with a video streaming event at 1 p.m. EDT, March 29.
http://surveyortraining.cms.hhs.gov/pubs/VideoInformation.aspx?cid=1098 Several hundred thousand nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementia are given one or more antipsychotic drugs. The HHS Office of Inspector General reported last year that the overwhelming majority of Medicare claims for antipsychotic drug were inappropriate.

In addition, hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents are inappropriately given antipsychotic drugs each day, despite the Food and Drug Administration’s ‘Black Box’ warnings that these drugs can kill
residents who have dementia. Too many nursing homes use antipsychotic drugs as a way to control residents when they don’t have enough well-trained staff who know their residents well and can give them the time and attention they need. The word needs to get out that chemical restraints are as dangerous for residents as physical restraints.

“Nursing home staff who take the time to understand what residents are communicating with their behavior can provide care to their residents without using chemical restraints,” said Claire Curry, Legal Director, Civil Advocacy Program, Legal Aid Justice Center, Charlottesville, Virginia. “We have seen good care like this in some facilities and know that all facilities can do the same.”

Federal law, to a large extent, already prohibits the drugging of residents,” said Toby S. Edelman, Senior Policy Attorney, Center for Medicare Advocacy, Washington, DC, “but the law is often too timidly enforced. CMS needs to dramatically step up strong enforcement of the law to ensure that all residents get the care and services they need, accor. CMS needs to ensure that no resident receives antipsychotic drugs except in full compliance with the law.”

In August 2010, the California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform (CANHR) launched a campaign to end nursing home misuse of psychoactive drugs in response to the longstanding, widespread misuse of these drugs to chemically restrain residents. The campaign features a special website, educational presentations, consumer advice, administrative and legislative advocacy, stop-drugging blog and much more.  For more information about CANHR’s Campaign or the CMS initiative, please contact Michael Connors or Tony Chicotel,(415) 974-5171, or visit CANHR’s website www.canhr.org/stop-drugging.

This blog article is taken from CANHR’s 3.28.12 press release.

Our blogger Karen J. Fletcher is CHA's publications consultant. She provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare, health disparities and other health care issues. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she serves in health advocacy as a trainer and consultant. See her current articles.