Use of physical restraints decreases in nursing facilities, but anti-anxiety drug use grows, industr

Use of physical restraints, falls, and emotional and behavioral symptoms dropped at nursing and rehabilitation facilities across the country over the last decade. But other quality indicators, such as the prevalence of anti-anxiety drug use, increased. That is according to a report released Monday by the American Health Care Association and the Alliance for Quality Nursing Home Care.

Overall, 16 of 26 MDS quality indicators at nursing and rehabilitation facilities across the country showed measurable improvement between 2000 and 2009, the report found. The percentage of residents who were physically restrained fell from 9.3% in 2000 to 3.1% in 2009, according to the second annual Quality Report from the nursing home advocacy groups. Emotional and behavioral symptoms that affect other residents slipped from 21.2% to 17% during that time. There was also a 2% reduction in falls, a 2.5% drop in symptoms of depression with anti-depressant therapy and a 2.4% reduction in the number of patients who lose too much weight.

But there is still some work to be done, AHCA and Alliance leaders noted. The prevalence of anti-anxiety and hypnotic drug use increased from 17% to 23.1% over the last 10 years. Meanwhile, the percentage of nursing facility patients taking nine or more medications increased from 42.8% to 70.6% over that same period, according to the report. The report is available online at or