U.S. nursing homes are using powerful antipsychotic drugs on elderly patients in nursing homes less often than a few years ago.
According to the latest data from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, known as CMS, the percentage of long-term nursing home residents being given antipsychotic drugs dropped from about 24 percent in late 2011 to under 16 percent last year. Decreases were reported in all 50 states, with the biggest in Tennessee, California and Arkansas.
Dr. Jerry Gurwitz, chief of geriatric medicine at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, calls the decrease dramatic, but says nursing homes might be finding other medications that sedate patients into passivity without drawing the same level of scrutiny as antipsychotics.
Advocacy groups say the use of antipyschotic drugs still is excessive.