The Dayton Daily reported about the ongoing problem of giving residents anti-psychotics medications for off-label use. At most Ohio nursing homes, about 15 percent of long-term residents are on anti-psychotic drugs, which puts patients at risk for dangerous side effects and even death, according to the Federal Drug Administration. For dementia patients, anti-psychotic drugs intended for serious mental illnesses can significantly affect quality of life and result in dangerous and fatal side effects.
Many short-staffed nursing homes have relied too heavily on medications as the quickest and most direct way to address behavior when there is not enough staff to meet the needs of the resident. Families of residents on these drugs complain that their family members are not acting like themselves, are sleeping all the time or have lost interest in activities they once enjoyed.
To curb the use of these medications for dementia patients, up to 100 Ohio nursing homes could get training at a substantial discount that teaches how to take other approaches to addressing difficult behaviors besides medication. The grant money comes from fines nursing homes have paid over citations. The value of the training is that it helps nursing home workers have the knowledge base to take other approaches with residents besides medication, said Peter Van Runkle, executive director of Ohio Health Care Association, which represents nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.
The set of training programs are with nonprofit Eden Alternative and the training teaches nursing home staff how to provide individual care that looks to understand the reason behind challenging behavior and find an individual non-medication approach.
The state also has the ability from an enforcement to issue citations and penalties to nursing homes for having residents with drug regimens with unnecessary prescriptions, and the FDA has not approved anti-psychotics to treat dementia symptoms.
How to search anti-psychotic prescribing at your nursing home
You can look up the percent of residents who are prescribed anti-psychotic medications at every Medicare or Medicaid certified nursing home in the U.S.
- Go to Medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html
- Under “Find a nursing home” type the location and then the name of a nursing home in the two search bars.
- Click on the “Quality of resident care” tab.
- Scroll down and click on “long-stay” or “short-stay” to see the percentage of residents of those two groups who got an anti-psychotic prescription. Lower percentages are better.