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 CMS Seeks Reduction In Antipsychotic Drug Use In SNFs

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) hopes to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs in skilled nursing facilities by 15 percent before the end of this year, according to a new initiative launched by the agency.

Dubbed the Initiative to Improve Behavioral Health and Reduce the Use of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Homes Residents, officials said on a conference call today that the agency is developing a national action plan that will use “a multidimensional approach, including public reporting, raising public awareness, regulatory oversight, technical assistance/training, and research,” to enhance person‐centered care for nursing home residents, particularly those with dementia‐related behaviors.

This measure mirrors a similar goal launched recently by the American Health Care Association (AHCA) as part of its Quality Initiative, which charges its members to safely reduce the off-label use of antipsychotics by 15 percent by Dec. 31, 2012. According to AHCA, if the association achieves its goal, 18,400 fewer individuals will receive antipsychotic medications each year.

Speaking on the conference call today was Morris Kaplan, NHA, operating partner of Gwynedd Square Center for Nursing & Convalescent Care, Lansdale, Pa. Kaplan is an attorney who pioneered the nationally recognized Alzheimer’s Special Care Program at Gwynedd Square.
The program was designated as a “Model Program for Alzheimer’s Care” by the Alzheimer’s Association in 1993.

“AHCA and long term care providers are eager to form this unified front with CMS and other stakeholders to reduce the use of antipsychotics in nursing home residents,” said David Gifford, MD, MPH, AHCA senior vice president of quality and regulatory affairs, in response to the initiative’s launch.

“Many of these individuals are scared, confused, frustrated, and have difficulty communicating verbally, so they use behavior as their form of communication. As care providers, we need to listen,” continued Gifford.

The AHCA Quality Initiative also has specific goals for safely reducing hospital readmissions, increasing staff stability, and increasing customer satisfaction to foster person-centered care and reduce costs in skilled nursing care centers.

For more information about CMS’ initiative, go to:  

For more information about AHCA’s Quality Initiative, go to:   

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