Study: Doctors over prescribe antipsychotics in facilities

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Nursing home residents are taking too many antipsychotic drugs, a new study reports.

Nursing home doctors either prescribed antipsychotic drugs in dosages that were too high or prescribed them to treat the wrong ailments, including poor impaired memory or depression, according to the University of Massachusetts study. Results are in this week's Archive's of Internal Medicine.

Identifying a sample of 1,096 Medicare beneficiaries in nursing homes, the study suggests doctors prescribed antipsychotics to 693,000 Medicare beneficiaries at least once from 2000 to 2001. One in four patients did not exhibit the behavioral symptoms that call for the drugs. More than 15% received too much medication and nearly 18% had both improper symptoms and too much medication.

Antipsychotic drugs can cause dangerous side effects, including increased risk for falls and extreme drowsiness.

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