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Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes?

Joseph Coupal - Thursday, July 26, 2012
A recent study obtained by the Globe shows that many nursing homes, especially in Massachusetts, use antipsychotic drugs on Alzheimer’s and Dementia patients in order to pacify them.  Statistics show that one in five nursing homes administer these drugs to many patients, despite the patients not having a mental psychosis illness that warrants their use.  These medications are not without drawbacks.   The side effects include an increased risk of lethal infections, cardiovascular complications, dizziness, drop in blood pressure, blurred vision and urinary problems.    Using these prescriptions are contrary to the federal nursing home regulators’ recommendations. The intent of the antipsychotic pills is to treat those with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia.  There are black box warnings about the side effects of these drugs when used by patients with Dementia. Two years ago, Massachusetts ranked as one of the states with the highest use of nursing home residents receiving antipsychotics.  Studies show there is a correlation between homes that use drugs for conditions not recommended by regulators and having fewer nurses to administer direct care.  The suspected reason behind this correlation is that keeping patients with dementia claim requires direct care and is time consuming. See full article.

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