Addressing the nursing home industry’s nursing shortage might have a domino effect in dropping antipsychotic use.
That’s one of the key findings from a new University of Missouri study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric and Mental Health Nursing. Nearly 6 million individuals in the U.S. suffer from dementia, about half who are housed in a nursing home. The Food and Drug Administration has not approved tranquilizers to treat the condition, but often, nursing homes reach for them to help address its symptoms, experts note.
Lorraine Phillips, an associate professor of nursing at MU, believes boosting RN staffing could help address this problem in the state.
“Missouri has fewer registered nurse hours per resident than the national average, and it ranks high in antipsychotic use,” she said in a press release. “We found that if registered nurse staffing in this state were to rise to meet the national average, the odds of antipsychotic use would go down by at least 22 percent.”
Researchers came to that conclusion by analyzing 2015 Minimum Data Set information and numbers from the Missouri Department of Health and Human Services at 458 nursing homes. They noted that more than 11% of residents, and 15% of those with dementia, received an antipsychotic within seven days of assessment.
Comparing facilities against one another, they determined that increasing registered nurse staffing by just one hour per resident day could reduce antipsychotic use by more than 50% for residents. Bringing RN staffing in line with the national average, requiring an increase of 20 minutes per resident day, would equal that 22% overall drop in use.