Last week, CMS announced a new goal to reduce antipsychotic medication use in nursing homes by 25 percent by the end of 2015 and 30 percent by the end of 2016. Antipsychotic medications come with black box warnings, the FDA’s most serious alert, notifying users that the medication can have fatal risks for the elderly and people with dementia. Currently, around 20 percent of long-stay nursing home residents receive antipsychotic medications. Past studies conducted by the OIG and Boston Globe found widespread inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes, including regimens with high dosages and excessive durations, and prescriptions for off-label conditions.
A recent study published in the Journal of American Medicine found other questionable prescriptions for nursing home patients with advanced dementia. Within the sample studied, almost 54 percent of patients received a drug that was deemed never appropriate for people with advanced dementia receiving palliative care (e.g., cholesterol medication). Not only do these medications provide little benefit to patients, they also come with a high cost and potential side effects.