The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services recently announced that they are setting a goal of reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing home residents by 15 percent by the end of this year. The federal regulators further announced that almost 40 percent of nursing home residents with signs of dementia were receiving antipsychotic drugs at some point in 2010, even though they had not been diagnosed with a psychological condition that would warrant use of the drugs. It was also found that more than 17 percent of nursing home residents in 2010 were given daily doses of antipsychotics that were in excess of recommended levels.
The United States Food and Drug Administration has repeatedly warned against the use of these powerful sedatives in elderly patients with dementia because of potentially lethal side effects.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services said it will work with the nursing home industry to improve training of staff, and will emphasize alternatives to medication for calming residents with dementia who behave aggressively.