Call to Halt Overprescription of Medications to Elderly Patients
Moorestown, NJ (Law Firm Newswire) November 16, 2012 – During a press conference at the state Capitol, Connecticut Senator Richard Blumenthal announced his intent to halt the over-prescription of off-label antipsychotic drugs to nursing home patients.
Medical advocates and elderly care advocates also announced the formation of a Connecticut-based coalition made up of nursing home groups and public health employees. Their aim is to reduce the amount of antipsychotics prescribed to elderly patients by 15 percent, calling it “chemical restraint.”
Sen. Blumenthal and the coalition of advocates, the Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes, have stated that the extensive dispensing of antipsychotic medications to dementia patients, residing in long-term care facilities and nursing homes, is a form of elder abuse, no less offensive than using physical restraints. The medications in question include Olanzapine, Risperidone and Quetiapine.
Qualidigm, a Medicare quality improvement organization based in Connecticut, sponsors the coalition and Senator Bluemnthal’s bill, which suggests alternative techniques for patient care, including touch therapy, music and comforting routines.
“While caring for elderly patients with dementia can bring extra challenges, we applaud the health care system taking steps to use less restrictive approaches to managing their care,” stated New Jersey elder law attorney Thomas D. Begley, Jr.
The bill would require the consent from family members prior to use, and would require educational programs for prescribers and dispensing nursing home staff, as well as regular reporting on facility usage of antipsychotic drugs.
According to Blumenthal and the Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes, the use of these medications for elderly dementia patients has not been approved by the FDA and can cause unresponsiveness, excessive sedation and can increase health risks such as stroke.
While the national average for prescribing these off-label antipsychotic drugs is 23.9 percent, Connecticut nursing homes currently prescribe these between 25 percent and 65 percent of the time. A report released last year by the Inspector General stated that 83 percent of nursing home care Medicare claims were for off-label conditions which included the prescribing of antipsychotic drugs.
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