Apr 29, 2012

Rampant Use of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes Exposed

The data show that in more than one in five nursing homes in the United States, antipsychotics are administered to a significant percentage of residents despite the fact that they do not have a related condition that warrants their use.

Alzheimer's Reading Room

A Boston Globe investigation has found that roughly 185,000 nursing home residents in the United States received antipsychotics in 2010 contrary to federal nursing home regulators’ recommendations.

The government finally provided the data to the Boston Globe, 19 months after the newspaper submitted a Freedom of Information Act request.

The data show that in more than one in five nursing homes in the United States, antipsychotics are administered to a significant percentage of residents despite the fact that they do not have a psychosis or related condition that nursing home regulators say warrants their use.


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Rosanne Murphy was growing more agitated as she sank deeper into Alzheimer’s disease. Unable to bathe, dress, or feed herself, she would call her daughter in a panic many nights at bedtime, not remembering where she was.

It was time, her daughter, Alison Weingartner, realized - time for her mother, then 80, to move to a nursing home.

Over two months in early 2006, she visited 10 facilities, trying to make sure she picked the right one. Weingartner finally chose Ledgewood Rehabilitation and Skilled Nursing Center in Beverly because it had an Alzheimer’s special care unit and it was near her home. She could visit her mother often.

She knew what she liked about the home; it’s what she had no way of knowing that now haunts her.

This is an excellent piece of journalism by Kay Lazar and Matt Carroll of The Boston Globe. These findings are included in an interactive, online database assembled by the newspaper to allow consumers for the first time to compare nursing homes’ use of antipsychotics. You can get it by subscribing (use the free trial).

Go here to read all the details and the comments.

Also see -- How the nursing home data were analyzed


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Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room