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 Providers Ahead Of Antipsychotic Curve, Government Data Show

Providers have jumped ahead of the antipsychotic curve, a new government report shows.
 
The improper use of antipsychotic medications for long term care residents fell by 19.4 percent between the fourth quarter of 2011 and the third quarter of 2014, data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) show.
 
It’s great news for residents, thousands of whom had long been given the potent drugs as a way to keep them sedate, but also for providers, many of whom have long argued that antipsychotics weren’t just needless, but dangerous.
 
“These medications may be appropriate for individuals suffering from schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, but in the elderly living with dementia, they can increase the risk of complications, resulting in poor health outcomes and higher costs,” says David Gifford, MD, senior vice president for quality at the American Health Care Association/National Center for Assisted Living (AHCA/NCAL).
 
Monday’s announcement was greeted warmly by provider advocates, including AHCA/NCAL President and Chief Executive Officer Mark Parkinson. “These new data are further evidence of the success of the quality initiative our association embarked on three years ago,” he said Monday.
 
Last September, CMS announced that providers had exceeded an earlier goal of a 15 percent overall reduction in the off-label use of antipsychotics. (At the time, Parkinson reminded the public that the percent decrease meant more than 26,000 seniors had been spared the ordeal of antipsychotic drugs. “Behind each of those percentages are literally thousands of lives that are being improved,” he said.)
 
The government and providers immediately agreed to set a new goal of a 25 percent reduction by the end of this year and a 30 percent reduction by the end of 2016. Additionally, CMS has agreed to consider antipsychotic reduction as part of its troubled Five Star quality rating program.
 
Monday’s data, Parkinson says, “clearly underscore the commitment” of his association’s membership “to improving care for the patients and residents that they serve.”
 
“Even with this announcement,” he added, “we won’t stop — we can do better.”
 
Bill Myers is Provider’s senior editor. Email him at wmyers@providermagazine.com. Follow him on Twitter, @ProviderMyers.
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