Nursing Home Abuse
Written by Faith Anderson on May 3, 2012
Antipsychotics Prescribed for Off-Label Uses
According to a recent report, an estimated 185,000 nursing home residents in the United States were prescribed antipsychotic medications in 2010, despite the fact that they had none of the conditions for which the drugs have been FDA-approved to treat. This report suggests that the widespread use of antipsychotic medications like Seroquel, Risperdal, Abilify and Zyprexa persists, even though the FDA and other health experts have issued warnings regarding the dangers of the drugs when used in this capacity. According to warnings, antipsychotic drugs should not be used to treat patients with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia because they may increase the risk of death for individuals with these conditions.
Nursing Home Residents Sedated With Antipsychotics
Nursing home representatives have indicated that they are giving the drugs to some elderly residents to prevent them from hurting themselves and others. However, health experts say that the medications place elderly residents in a stupor, thereby increasing the risk of nursing home falls and other dangerous incidents. When used as chemical restraints, antipsychotic drugs also decrease residents’ quality of life, leaving them in a perpetual state of sedation, which is why many consider this type of antipsychotic use as a form of nursing home abuse.
FDA Black Box Warnings for Atypical Antipsychotics
Last May, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Officer of Inspector General issued a report on the misuse of atypical antipsychotics in nursing homes, concluding that off-label and dangerous use of the medications was widespread. This report compiled data collected by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) in the first half of 2007 and found that 14% of the country’s 2.1 million elderly nursing home residents were prescribed an atypical antipsychotic at least once. Medical records indicate that 83% of those medications were given for off-label treatments not approved by the FDA. Even more alarming, about 88% of the off-label uses were for conditions that the FDA actually cautioned against in black box warnings, which date back to 2005.