Study Indicates Nursing Home Residents Over-Prescribed Antipsychotic Drugs
A new study published in the January 2010 Archives of Internal Medicine (Yong Chen, M.D., University of Massachusetts Medical School) indicates that nearly 30% of nursing home residents from across the United States were prescribed antipsychotic drugs and nearly one-third of these persons had no medical need for the drugs. The study is concerning because it suggests that prescribing decisions are often made without direct contact between the prescribing doctor and the patient. The study’s authors say this is due to “an institutional prescribing culture.” Even more troubling are the safety risks to patients who do not need antipsychotic medication since various FDA warnings suggest many antipsychotic drugs can have mortality risks in the elderly population.
Antipsychotic drugs are designed to treat schizophrenia and major psychiatric illnesses, and are used to calm and control the behavior of people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias -- conditions for which the drugs are not approved by the FDA. An unrelated study authored by E. Ray Dorsey, M.D. of the University of Rochester in New York, also published in the January 2010 Archives of Internal Medicine, indicated that office-based physicians were significantly cutting back on prescription of antipsychotics for dementia as a result of FDA black box warnings.