Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Anti-Psychotic Medications are Being Overused

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has raised concerns about practitioners overprescribing and overusing anti-psychotic medications for seniors with dementia, children with behavioral problems and/or ADHD symptoms, or adults suffering from insomnia.

Anti-psychotic medications include drugs traditionally used for conditions such as schizophrenia and bi-polar disorder. Recently, they have been more widely used for patients ranging from unruly nursing home residents to children with aggressive behaviors or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. That's despite growing concerns about misuse and side effects.

The concern is that, in many cases when misused, these medications actually cause the problem to get worse or even cause other issues and adverse side effects. In fact, the American Board of Internal Medicine (ABIM) recently launched a campaign called “Choose Wisely,” to raise awareness and spread the message that anti-psychotic medications should not be the first course of treatment. The group also cautions against using the medications without full evaluations and ongoing monitoring or using them in combinations of two or more, without trying several single medications first.

According to USA Today, “it's questionable for practitioners to use anti-psychotic drugs as routine or first-choice treatments for:
  • The behavioral and psychological symptoms of dementia. This is a common practice in nursing homes. But side effects can include confusion, sedation and hastened death;
  • Children and teens with any condition other than a psychotic disorder. Use in children has risen rapidly, especially among poor and minority children, despite research linking the medications to weight gain, cardiovascular changes and an increased risk of type 2 diabetes;
  • Adult insomnia. There's inadequate evidence they work for the sleeping problem.”
Additional efforts are underway. Another campaign to reduce anti-psychotic use in nursing homes by a national coalition of care providers, consumers and government agencies led to a 9% drop in the first year, the U.S. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) recently reported.
At the Fairfax and Fredericksburg Elder Law Firm of Evan H. Farr, P.C., we are dedicated to helping protect seniors and individuals with special needs by preserving dignity, quality of life, and financial security. If you have not done Long-Term Care Planning, Estate Planning or Incapacity Planning (or had your Planning documents reviewed in the past several years), or if you have a loved one who is nearing the need for long-term care or already receiving long-term care, call us at 703-691-1888 to make an appointment for a no-cost consultation.

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