April 5, 2012

Consumer Voice Applauds Campaign to End Chemical Restraints

by Levin & Perconti

The Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care is one of the nation’s premier advocacy groups for nursing home residents. For decades the organization has been raising awareness of a wide range of issues connected to the care and well-being of those living in these facilities. Our Illinois nursing home abuse lawyers know that it is organizations like the Consumer Voice that often sound the rallying call when supports of reasonable senior care need to band together to address a pressing issue.

For example, recently the organization released a statement raising awareness of a new Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) initiative that seeks to address the ever-present problem of over-medication of nursing home residents. As readers know, the overuse of antipsychotic drugs in these facilities is nothing new. However, real efforts to tackle the problem are rare. That is why those working toward the end of the unhealthy practice of chemical restraining residents were thrilled to see CMS officials take an important step in identifying and addressing the problem.

Last week CMS announced the “National Initiative to Improve Behavioral Health & Reduce the Use of Antipsychotic Medications in Nursing Home Residents.” The Consumer Voice explains that as part of the initiative CMS will be developing plans increase regulatory oversight of the misuse of these drugs, provide more technical assistance to help facilities understand the issue, conduct additional research to ensure the best-practices for residents, and raise awareness so that members of the public are better positioned to call out this form of nursing home abuse if they see it.

The comprehensive federal effort is a long time coming. This initiative was in no doubt spurred by the research that continues to pour in which demonstrates that giving antipsychotic drugs to residents with certain mental health conditions—like Alzheimer’s and dementia—can lead to serious harm and death. The Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General issued a report last reach which explained that most antipsychotic drug use paid for by Medicare was inappropriate. Considering the wealth of evidence which demonstrates the negative effects of these medications, each Chicago nursing home neglect lawyer at our firm appreciates the value in finally having a strong federal push to eliminate this dangerous nursing home practice.

It is not an understatement to say that if this initiative is successful countless lives will be saved as a result. As one long-term care advocated noted, “Hundreds of thousands of nursing home residents are inappropriately given antipsychotic drugs each day, despite the Food and Drug Administration’s ‘Black Box’ warning that these drugs can kill residents who have dementia.”

Our Illinois nursing home neglect lawyers understand that the misuse of the drugs can be traced back to a variety of factors. One of the most crucial is the understaffing of many facilities. Without enough staff member to provide the care each resident needs, there is a tendency to quickly dispense pills that essentially sedate residents, making them easier to control. Of course the sedation severely impacts the resident’s quality of life and may have serious health risks. That is why a comprehensive approach to the issue is necessary and hopefully possible via this new CMS initiative.

We encourage all local advocates to follow along as the initiative develops. Please click here to watch the launch video for the program which aired late last week.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Consumer Voice Launches New Guide to Help With Long-Term Care Decisions

October Declared Nursing Home Residents’ Rights Month