ATLANTA — An effort to prevent the unnecessary use of anti-psychotic drugs in Georgia nursing homes is working, according to data from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Georgia has seen a 26.4 percent decline in the use of such medications in long-stay residents.
Anti-psychotics are not FDA-approved for behavioral symptoms in dementia and have been shown to increase the risk of falls with fractures, hospitalizations and other complications.
In 2005, the FDA issued a black-box warning on the medications, citing the increased risk of cardiovascular death when used in the elderly for behavioral symptoms in dementia. About half of the state’s nursing home residents have dementia.
While Georgia had one of the nation’s highest rates of anti-psychotic use in the spring of 2011, it has been one of the leading states in reducing their use, posting a 26.4 percent reduction, compared to a 15 percent decline nationally.
“The goal is not (to) get to zero, as there are some instances where these medications are appropriately used as specified by the geriatric psychiatrist,” said Dr. Adrienne Mims, vice president and chief medical officer of Medicare quality improvement at Alliant Georgia Medical Care Foundation.
Nursing homes used educational tools, improved training, methodical data collection and analysis to work with the Georgia Health Care Association; LeadingAge Georgia; Alliant GMCF, the Medicare quality-improvement organization for Georgia; and other state partners.
Facilities throughout the state moved toward more patient-centered approaches over medications to treat behavioral symptoms in dementia. Today, as a result of this cooperative effort, fewer nursing home residents in Georgia are on anti-psychotics.
CMS launched the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care in 2012, featuring improved staff training and a focus on alternative treatment options.
Alliant Health Solutions is a nonprofit family of companies, including Alliant GMCF. Alliant helps ensure that tax dollars are used appropriately in the administration of public-sector health programs by educating providers on best practices; ensuring appropriate use of services through prior authorization and medical review; and providing program surveillance to drive out waste and fraud.