Antipsychotics use assailed

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Nearly one-fourth of U.S. nursing homes are giving residents more antipsychotic drugs than federal guidelines recommend, a Boston Globe analysis says.

Antipsychotic drug overuse has decreased dramatically over five years, from 237,510 residents in 2005 to 185,370 in 2010. But the Globe, in studying data of 15,000 nursing homes that was provided by Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, found that the homes giving more antipsychotics have fewer nurses and nurse aides.

“There is a clear link between the rate of antipsychotic use in a nursing home and its staffing level. Nursing home specialists say it can be more time-consuming for staff to keep dementia patients calm without using drugs,” the newspaper reported.

The data included the percentage of long-term care residents “without a psychosis or related condition who received antipsychotics contrary to federal nursing home regulators' recommendations” and “characteristics of each home, such as staffing levels, number of patients on Medicaid, and the number reported by staff to have behavioral problems.”