Sumary of Phony Diagnoses Hide High Rates of Drugging at Nursing Homes:
- The handwritten doctor’s order was just eight words long, but it solved a problem for Dundee Manor, a nursing home in rural South Carolina struggling to handle a new resident with severe dementia.
- Antipsychotic drugs — which for decades have faced criticism as “chemical straitjackets” — are dangerous for older people with dementia, nearly doubling their chance of death from heart problems, infections, falls and other ailments.
- But understaffed nursing homes have often used the sedatives so they don’t have to hire more staff to handle residents.
- The risks to patients treated with antipsychotics are so high that nursing homes must report to the government how many of their residents are on these potent medications.
- But there is an important caveat: The government doesn’t publicly divulge the use of antipsychotics given to residents with schizophrenia or two other conditions.
- The result: The government and the industry are obscuring the true rate of antipsychotic drug use on vulnerable residents.
- That was the year the federal government, concerned with the overuse of antipsychotic drugs, began publicly disclosing such prescriptions by individual nursing homes.
- Schizophrenia, which often causes delusions, hallucinations and dampened emotions, is almost always diagnosed before the age of 40.“People don’t just wake up with schizophrenia when they are elderly,” said Dr. Michael Wasserman, a geriatrician and former nursing home executive who has become a critic of the industry.