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 Providers Sail Past Antipsychotic Mark, Set Loftier Goals

The nation’s long term care providers have exceeded goals of cutting back on the improper use of antipsychotics, federal officials announced Friday.
Provider associations and federal regulators had agreed to cut back on the number of antipsychotic drugs given to those suffering from dementia. In a Friday conference call, officials announced that providers had cut back on those prescriptions by more than 15 percent between 2011 and 2013.
“Progress continues to be made,” said Patrick Conway, chief medical officer at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS). “Our goal is to improve the care in our nation’s nursing homes.”
By the end of the first quarter of this year, antipsychotic use had been cut by more than 17 percent, Conway said.
In fact, now the same groups are urging providers to reach higher: Friday, officials announced that they had agreed to reduce the off-label use of antipsychotics by 25 percent by the end of 2015 and 30 percent by the end of 2016.
Antipsychotics are often prescribed to those with dementia to help curb agitation and aggression. But providers who embrace “person-centered” care principles have long argued the drugs are not only needless, but dangerous. In 2012, the FDA issued a public health warning about some antipsychotics: Residents given Haldol, for instance, were nearly twice as likely to die as those who were on other medications.
In 2011, Medicare spent $7.6 billion on antipsychotic medications, the second-most expensive drug class.
That same year, CMS agreed to join forces with AHCA, AMDA—The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine, LeadingAge, and Advancing Excellence in America’s Nursing Homes. Calling itself the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, the government-association group has set concrete goals to help providers rethink the way they care for America’s most vulnerable elderly.
Executives at each of the partnership groups joined Friday’s call, and were exultant.
“There’s so much talk about how nothing can get done in D.C.,” said Mark Parkinson, president and chief executive officer of the American Health Care Association (AHCA). “This is really a fantastic success story. The results speak for themselves.”
AHCA member companies were actually ahead of the goals, Parkinson said. Their efforts have meant that some 26,200 seniors in AHCA centers have been spared the ordeal of antipsychotics, he said.
Behind each of those percentages are literally thousands of lives that are being improved,” Parkinson said.
Bill Myers is Provider’s senior editor. Email him at Follow him on Twitter, @ProviderMyers
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