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Saturday, December 03, 2011
Elderly With Dementia Are Wrongly Given Antipsychotic Drugs, Inspectors Say
From Huffington Post:
Government inspectors told lawmakers Wednesday that Medicare officials need to do more to stop doctors from prescribing powerful psychiatric drugs to nursing home patients with dementia, an unapproved practice that has flourished despite repeated government warnings.
So-called antipsychotic drugs are designed to help control hallucinations, delusions and other abnormal behavior in people suffering from schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, but they're also given to hundreds of thousands of elderly nursing home patients in the U.S. to pacify aggressive behavior related to dementia. Drugs like AstraZeneca's Seroquel and Eli Lilly's Zyprexa are known for their sedative effect, often putting patients to sleep.
But the drugs can also increase the risk of death in seniors, prompting the Food and Drug Administration to issue multiple warnings against prescribing the drugs for dementia. Antipsychotics raise blood sugar and cholesterol, often resulting in weight gain.
An inspector for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services told the Senate Committee on Aging that the federal government's Medicare program should begin penalizing nursing homes that inappropriately prescribe antipsychotics, according to written testimony obtained by the Associated Press.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services provides health coverage to nearly 80 million senior, poor or disabled Americans.
HHS Inspector General Daniel Levinson proposed that Medicare force nursing homes to pay for drugs that are prescribed inappropriately, and potentially bar nursing homes that don't use antipsychotics appropriately from Medicare.Continue reading.
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