The calm before the antipsychotics storm

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James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
James M. Berklan, McKnight's Editor
If you're a Daily McKnight's reader — and of course you are, you're here, aren't you? — it's a good thing. Otherwise, you might have never known that a federal measure calling for closer monitoring of antipsychotic drug use in nursing homes was sidetracked late last week.

This came just two days after venerable old politicians whom long-term care professionals have become achingly familiar with introduced the amendment with a flourish.

If you're relieved or somehow happy that the amendment wasn't passed, even though the larger measure it was attached to was, just a few words of advice: Don't get cocky.

The anti-antipsychotics drumbeat is not going to go away, let alone quiet down. Far from it. By this fall, it should reach a crescendo again.

Put another way, this could be that eerie calm before the tornado roars in: You've felt some of the fallout already but to become complacent or neglect to batten down the hatches would be foolish.

Keep in mind that the Kohl-Grassley amendment was NOT voted down — it just wasn't included in the final legislation that was passed. This was more a decision of expediency by a Senate manager who wanted to make sure something was passed. The number of amendments allowed was severely restricted.

That damning Office of Inspector General report of 2011 is still out there, and its results focusing on the abundant off-label use of antipsychotics won't just disappear. The public has been warned and the politicians have taken up the cause: Too many nursing home residents are being medicated into submission and that can't continue.

So, watch out, providers. The major skilled nursing groups have made some nice overtures about quality control and self-policing. But get caught with too many glassy-eyed grandmas or grandpas for the wrong reason, and you're going to get stung. There's still a hive of trouble out there looking for you.

You read it here.

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Daily Editors' Notes

McKnight's Daily Editor's Notes features commentary on the latest in long-term care news. Entries are written by Editorial Director John O'Connor on Monday and Friday; Staff Writer Tim Mullaney on Tuesday, Editor James M. Berklan on Wednesday and Senior Editor Elizabeth Newman on Thursday.

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