Nursing Home Care Advocates Urging Requiring Pharmacist Conflict of Interest Independence

Yesterday we discussed the recent calls by nursing home neglect prevention advocates for federal efforts to combat the misuse of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes. Having steps taken at important federal agencies-like the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services-would go a long way to cracking down on the misuse of these drugs, which have deadly effect of the lives of nursing home residents. However, beyond awareness efforts at these agencies, many working to prevent nursing home abuse are also hoping to push for a federal requirement to change the role played by pharmacists which encourages the misuse of these drugs.

The advocates making this call explain that to ensure proper care, long-term care pharmacists and clinicians must ensure that their medical decisions are not influenced by conflicts of interest. Under current law, a nursing home is required to obtain the services of a licensed pharmacist to review pharmacology issues at the facility. As such they are in a key position to ensure that misuse of drugs at these homes is identified and thwarted. These pharmacists should have increased awareness of the need to look-out for antipsychotic drug issues, because the Office of the Inspector General recently issued a comprehensive report on that very subject. It was noted how there remains a “serious an ongoing problem of residents being given unnecessary, excessive, inappropriate drugs.”

However, much of the drug misuse continues, even with pharmaceutical oversight. Conflicts of interest may be part of the problem. In many cases the financial arrangements between long term care facilities, the pharmaceutical manufacturers that provide drugs to them, and pharmacists themselves make it financially beneficial to encourage the use of antipsychotic drug at these homes. This conflict or potential conflict ultimately may result in a prioritization of profit over proper resident care. It cannot stand.

Advocates-including the National Consumer Voice for Quality Long-Term Care-are calling for legal changes which would prohibit dangerous conflicts of interest. The group is urging passage of a bill which would prohibit affiliations between long-term care consultant pharmacists and the facility’s pharmacy, drug manufacturers, distributers, and affiliates. Federal agencies should also ensure that there are effective oversight schemes in place to ensure that the law is effective in providing independent, proper pharmaceutical oversight at all long-term care facilities.

The Chicago nursing home abuse lawyers at our firm know that the profit motive lies at the heart of most cases of nursing home neglect. In many cases, seniors have their lives made worse, are injured, and even killed because of lapses in care which could have been avoided if nursing homes had the proper resources available. Instead, most of these facilities continue to engage in actions which help their bottom line, but hurt the very people who are paying them for their services. No senior should be victimized in this way. Our nursing homes needs to be free of undue influence and damaging conflicts of interest, and elders should have the opportunity to live out their golden years in the best way possible.

See Our Related Blog Posts:

Steven Levin Interviewed For Story on Antipsychotic Drug Use in Nursing Homes

Widespread Use of Antipsychotic Drugs in Nursing Homes

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