A recent report by the Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the Department of Health and Human Services found that some nursing homes fail to administer atypical antipsychotic drugs safely.
The study, which was conducted at the request of Senator Charles Gassley, only covered a six month period from January 1 to June 30 of 2007. It examined the extent to which atypical antipsychotics were prescribed to elderly nursing home residents, whether they were being prescribed for “off-label” uses or for treatment of conditions specified in the “black box” warning labels and whether the nursing homes complied with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) standards regarding unnecessary drug use.
Atypical antipsychotics, also known as second generation antipsychotic drugs, have only been approved by the FDA for the treatment of serious conditions such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Yet, the OIG study found that in 83% of the cases reviewed the drugs were being prescribed for medical conditions for which the drug had not been approved by the FDA. In more than 87% of the cases the drug was given to a patient who had a condition specified in the drug’s “black box warning.” This type of alert is required by the FDA when testing shows a drug may cause serious or even life-threatening adverse effects.
In more than 50% of the cases the drugs were prescribed for a condition that was not medically accepted under Medicare’s regulations. It was also discovered that in over 300,000 cases the drugs were unnecessary as determined by CMS standards. Oftentimes, the drugs were given in excessive doses or over a longer period of time that was required. Medical reviewers also expressed concern that some nursing homes who failed to comply with the standards are not adequately ensuring the health and safety of their residents.
This study reveals even more evidence that many nursing homes fail to properly care for their residents. Their failure to employ qualified personnel, who are concerned about the well-being of residents, results in harm to seniors. If you believe your loved-one may not be receiving the proper treatment, contact the Kentucky Long-term Care Ombudsman for assistance.
Kentucky Nursing Home abuse attorney, Tad Thomas, is committed to protecting the elderly and holding responsible those who caused your loved ones harm.