Letter: Physicians defend use of antipsychotics in nursing homes

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Geriatric psychiatrists are defending the use of antipsychotics given to nursing home residents with dementia following a series of Boston Globe articles about the over-prescribing of such medications.

In a letter to the editor, two members of the Massachusetts Psychiatric Society assert that while non-drug behavioral interventions should be used foremost in treating agitation and aggression in dementia residents, the use of off-label medications is a “medically accepted treatment approach,” according to David Harnett, M.D., and James Ellison, M.D.

The “demonization of anti-psychotics may limit treatment options and discourage nursing homes from accepting behaviorally difficult patients. These institutions deserve our support, not condemnation,” they wrote.

Hartnett and Ellison were responding to a package of Boston Globe articles that examined the amount of facilities that use antipsychotics more than is federally recommended.

Click here to read the full letter.

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