Monday, October 15, 2012

Cutting Down on Antipsychotics


CMS, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid, announced in May that they are embarking on a multi-year initiative to cut the use of antipsychotic drugs in skilled nursing facilities by 15% by the end of this year. CMS cited statistics showing that nearly 40% of residents with dementia were getting antipsychotics even though they did not have a diagnosis supporting their use.

Other statistics from CMS indicate that in 2010 more than 17% of SNF residents received antipsychotic doses that were over the recommended levels.

“In 2013 we will set another goal,’’ said Alice Bonner, director of the nursing home division of CMS. “At that point, we will be looking at even more significant reductions.’’

CMS plans to achieve the cuts through training state inspectors and nursing home staff on alternatives to using antipsychotics for agitation and aggressive behaviors.  Participation in the reduction program is voluntary, but SNF trade groups pledged to work with CMS.

“We believe these antipsychotics are overprescribed,’’ said Dr. David Gifford, senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs at the American Health Care Association, a SNF trade group. “Many clinicians, physicians, and family members believe these medications are useful and necessary, but data show otherwise.’’

This article was originally published in Pathways & Partners Newsletter - Issue 25.  To download this issue in PDF format, or past issues, visit our newsletter archives online at

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