Federal Report Finds Mass Problems With Nursing Home Antipsychotic Drugs

The Inspector General’s Office with the United States Department of Health & Human Services recently released the results of a new study evaluating the improper use of atypical antipsychotic drugs in nationwide nursing homes. Our Chicago nursing home lawyers have long explained how many area residents are given drugs unnecessarily and without clear concern for their safety. This new report seems to echo those concerns about the proper use of antipsychotic drugs.

Specifically, the report found that more than half of all Medicare claims for atypical antipsychotic drugs were wrongly filed. In the period studied, the first half of 2007, the financial cost of the errors amounted to $116 million. That means that roughly $232 million in taxpayer funds are spent each year on antipsychotic drugs that are not needed.

Not only were the atypical antipsychotic drugs used erroneously, but they were often administered incorrectly. For example, 22 percent of the drug claims failed CMS standards on unnecessary nursing home medication use-that cost alone amounted to $63 million for half of the year.

The Inspector General’s Office recommended a variety of changes to crack down on the nursing home medication errors. Those include an assessment of potential new safeguards by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services to ensure compliance with existing standards. The office also suggested more appropriate action plans be taken against erroneous claims submitted by nursing homes.

Our Chicago nursing home attorneys at Levin & Perconti are not surprised by the findings of mass medication errors at nursing homes. We have worked with many victims of poor care at these facilities, including those whose loved ones were essentially given a “medication straight-jacket” unnecessarily. These drug errors deprive residents of the quality of life they deserve, risk their health, and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in unnecessary payments.

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