New Data Show Antipsychotic Drug Use Is Down In Nursing Homes Nationwide

Nursing homes are using antipsychotics less and instead pursuing more patient-centered treatment for dementia and other behavioral health care, according to new data released on Nursing Home Compare in July by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

Unnecessary antipsychotic drug use is a significant challenge in dementia care. CMS data show that in 2010 more than 17 percent of nursing home patients had daily doses exceeding recommended levels. In response to these trends, CMS launched the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in 2012.

“This important partnership to improve dementia care in nursing homes is yielding results,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, CMS chief medical officer and director of the Center for Clinical Standards and Quality. “We will continue to work with clinicians, caregivers, and communities to improve care and eliminate harm for people living with dementia.”

The Partnership’s goal is to reduce antipsychotic drug usage by 15 percent by the end of 2013. These new data show that the Partnership’s work is making a difference:  

  • The national prevalence of antipsychotic use in long stay nursing home residents has been reduced by 9.1 percent by the first quarter of 2013, compared to the last quarter of 2011.
  • There are approximately 30,000 fewer nursing home residents on these medications now than if the prevalence had remained at the pre-National Partnership level.
  • At least 11 states have hit or exceeded a 15 percent target and others are quickly approaching that goal. The states that have met or exceeded the target are: Alabama, Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee and Vermont.  

The Partnership aims to reduce inappropriate use of antipsychotics in several ways – including enhanced training for nursing home providers and state surveyors; increased transparency by making antipsychotic use data available online at Nursing Home Compare; and highlighting alternate strategies to improve dementia care. 

Since its launch in early 2012, the goal of the Partnership has been to improve quality of care and quality of life for the country’s 1.5 million nursing home residents. This broad-based coalition includes long-term care providers, caregivers and advocates, medical and quality improvement experts, government agencies, and consumers.

For more information on the Partnership’s efforts to reduce use of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, please visit the Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes website:

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