Drop in antipsychotics use surpasses providers' expectations

Mark Parkinson
Mark Parkinson

Leaders at the American Health Care Association said Monday they plan to keep the momentum going and further curb antipsychotic use in nursing homes after learning that a nearly 20% three-year decline exceeded their own expectations.

A public-private coalition under the guidance of the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services released its findings in a January 23 report.

Using CMS compiled quality data, the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in Nursing Homes noted that 19.2% of long-stay nursing home residents were receiving an antipsychotic medication in the third quarter of 2014. That's down from 23.9% in the fourth quarter of 2011 — a net drop of 19.4 percent, or about one-fifth.

“These new data are further evidence of the success of the Quality Initiative our Association embarked on three years ago,” Mark Parkinson, AHCA president and CEO, said in a statement. He  said the AHCA's goal is to further reduce off-label use by another 10% this year and 5% more by the end of 2016.

The coalition, which also includes LeadingAge, was developed to improve dementia care through the use of individualized, comprehensive care approaches. The partnership promotes a systematic process to evaluate each person and identify approaches that are most likely to benefit that individual.

“It is still full steam ahead until no nursing home or assisted living resident is a prisoner to unnecessary restraints, physical or chemical,” said Larry Minnix, LeadingAge president and CEO. “The Kendal organization, a LeadingAge member based in Pennsylvania, began the restraint-free movement a generation ago, and we are glad to continue to build on that momentum through the Advancing Excellence in America's Nursing Homes Campaign.”

The AHCA's Quality Initiative was launched to reduce off-label use of the medications by 15%. Later that year, AHCA joined CMS in supporting the work of the coalition, which had a similar 15% reduction goal for these medications.

Even with the recent encouraging news, some states continue to lag behind others in curbing off-label antipsychotics use.