- According to a report in The New York Times, approximately 21% of nursing home residents are currently being prescribed antipsychotic medications.
- Medications are dangerous for people with dementia, and can double their risk of death from the condition.
- Nursing homes are distributing medicines to pacify residents and make up for staffing shortages
- To hide drug use from official count, nursing homes are falsely diagnosing residents with schizophrenia
A staggering number of nursing home residents are being given antipsychotics medication by facilities to make up for staffing shortages.
According to a scathing report from the new York Times21 percent of nursing home residents are on antipsychotic drugs.
The drugs can be dangerous — especially for people with dementia — and can increase a person’s chance of dying from health problems or other conditions.
The report claimed that nursing homes are often using these drugs to seduce residents to meet the shortage of staff.
Misusing these drugs can tarnish a facility’s reputation, so to avoid officially reporting the use of antipsychotics, nursing homes are resorting to falsely diagnosing residents with schizophrenia to dodge reporting rules. .
Nursing home residents are being given antipsychotics drugs that could be potentially dangerous to cover staffing shortages in some facilities (file image)
About one in every nine nursing home residents in the US has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, while only one in every 150 people in the general population has the condition.
About one-third of long-term residents diagnosed with the condition by nursing homes in 2018 have no record of having previously been treated for the condition, according to a federal report.
False diagnoses are a form of reputation protection for nursing homes.
A household that dispenses antipsychotics drugs in high quantities may have a poor public reputation or rating from the government.
Nursing homes are rated by the government on a five star scale, with five stars being the best.
Facilities using higher doses of these drugs will see a drop in ratings.
Poor ratings will prompt potential residents or their family members to seek care elsewhere instead.
However, the nursing home has found a loophole.
Overuse of these drugs may be hidden because those receiving medication for schizophrenia are not counted in official statistics.
“Regulators are concerned about this practice as a way of circumventing the protections that these regulations carry,” Katherine Howden, a spokeswoman for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), told The Times.
Nursing homes often have inadequate staff, which causes them to distribute antipsychotics drugs to sedated patients so they require less care (file image)
‘It is unacceptable for a facility to inappropriately classify a resident’s diagnosis to improve its performance measures.
‘We will continue to identify facilities that do this and hold them accountable.’
The Times found that, overall, about 225,000 nursing home residents are receiving antipsychotics medication, or 21 percent.
These drugs are extremely dangerous when misused.
Patients with dementia – which can often affect the elderly population of nursing homes – nearly double their risk of death from the condition if they are using these drugs.
The industry is pushed to nursing homes due to the troubling staff shortage due to low wages.
The pandemic has caused problems especially with their survival. 200,000 less Nursing home workers were now at the start of the pandemic.
Nursing homes that distribute more antipsychotics drugs will receive government ratings from fewer authorities, leading to less business from potential residents. This leads them to use a fake schizophrenia diagnosis to cover up their use of drugs. Image: antipsychotics drug Risperdal
Problems arising from insufficient staffing can also lead to a decline in the five-star rating of nursing homes.
According to the Times, instead of spending more money to hire more employees and retain them longer, many residents are turning to cheaper alternatives to sedation.
An unconscious resident requires less care from staff, allowing smaller amounts of staff to spread out their time more.
Then the issues pile up on each other, and nursing home residents who need day-to-day care to live quality lives end up taking dangerous drugs.