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The Use of Anti-Psychotic Medication in Nursing Home Patients

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A Connecticut Health Investigative Team review of federal nursing home data from December finds a high use of antipsychotic medication in elderly residents not diagnosed with psychosis.

While these drugs are an important form of treatment for patients with certain psychiatric conditions, such as schizophrenia, their "off label" use to calm agitated patients can cause dangerous side effects, particularly for elderly patients with dementia.

Although the use of these drugs in the elderly is often unnecessary and potentially dangerous, their use doesn't impact the quality rating of a nursing home and consumers selecting a home for a loved one rarely learn of their use.

In  three-dozen Connecticut homes, at least a third of long-stay residents are on antipsychotics, yet nearly half of those homes have excellent overall ratings of 4 to 5 stars. Only three have the lowest overall rating.

Today, Morning Edition host Ray Hardman, speaks to Ann Spenard, Vice President of Operations for Qualidigm, a Medicare quality improvement organization in Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

Ray Hardman is Connecticut Public’s Arts and Culture Reporter. He is the host of CPTV’s Emmy-nominated original series Where Art Thou? Listeners to Connecticut Public Radio may know Ray as the local voice of Morning Edition, and later of All Things Considered.

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