Federal Government Targets Nursing Homes for Alleged Inappropriate Antipsychotic Drugs Use:
CMS has announced it will conduct investigations into certain nursing homes in an effort to uncover illegitimate schizophrenia diagnoses and any accompanying inappropriate antipsychotic drug use that amounts to nursing home malpractice.
The federal government will be conducting audits of nursing homes and requesting documentation demonstrating authentic schizophrenia diagnoses, says a recent Forbes article. The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) released a press release in mid-January announcing the intention to investigate nursing homes across the country to curb the abuse of antipsychotic drugs, which potentially exposes residents to dangerous side effects and is therefore consistent with nursing home malpractice.
The act comes as another step in the federal government’s initiative against the increased tendency of nursing homes to use antipsychotic drugs as a means of calming, and thereby more easily controlling, dementia patients. A New York Times investigation into inappropriate antipsychotic use in nursing homes revealed that about 21 percent of nursing homes use the drugs, equaling about 225,000 elderly residents presently receiving them; moreover, the Times reported that, although only one in 150 people in the general population are diagnosed with schizophrenia, one in nine elderly nursing home residents receive the diagnosis, even though schizophrenia is rarely diagnosed after age 40.
Providing the wrong medication to elderly nursing home residents, which qualifies as nursing home malpractice, can result in serious, and even life-threatening, conditions. For example, the sedative properties of antipsychotic drugs can lead to increased nursing home falls and bedsores, which can result from residents remaining unmoving in beds or chairs for prolonged periods. Beyond this, anti-psychotics have been linked to heart problems in people who suffer with dementia; furthermore, according to clinical trials, the risk of wrongful death nearly doubles for dementia patients using antipsychotics, necessitating the involvement of a wrongful death attorney.
According to Forbes, CMS declared that any audit that reveals a false diagnosis of a resident having schizophrenia will result in the loss of a star from the nursing home’s rating on the agency’s Five-Star Quality Rating System for nursing homes.
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