The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services should penalize physicians and nursing homes that continue to inappropriately prescribe and administer anti-psychotic medications to dementia residents, regulators have urged.

In Nov. 30 testimony to the Senate Special Committee on Aging, Health and Human Services Inspector General Daniel Levinson proposed penalties for nursing homes that inappropriately administer antipsychotics.

“Overprescribed: The Human and Taxpayers’ Costs of Anti-psychotics in Nursing Homes,” also included testimony from advocates and physicians who discussed alternatives to medication for at-risk residents.

LeadingAge’s Cheryl Phillips, M.D., noted that treating underlying pain in dementia residents can reduce confusion and agitation.

Tom Hlavacek, the executive director of the Alzheimer’s Association of Southeast Wisconsin, spoke of programs that have helped nursing home workers identify dementia behaviors.

“Staff training and education is critical and should happen at all levels,” Hlavacek said.