Nursing Home Residents Given Hazardous Drugs
An OIG audit
found that almost one in seven elderly nursing home residents, nearly all of them with dementia, are given powerful atypical antipsychotic drugs even though the medicines increase the risks of death and are not approved for such treatments, according to a New York Times article
More than half of the antipsychotics paid for by the federal Medicare program in the first half of 2007 were "erroneous," the audit found, costing the program $116 million for those six months.
The government auditors found that of the 2.1 million elderly patients in nursing homes during the first six months of 2007, 304,983 had at least one Medicare claim for an antipsychotic medicine. Nursing home residents received 20 percent of the 8.5 million claims for antipsychotic medicines for all Medicare beneficiaries at a cost of $309 million during those six months.
The auditors found that 83 percent of antipsychotic prescriptions for elderly nursing home residents were for uses not approved by federal drug regulators, and 88 percent were to treat patients with dementia--for whom the drugs can be lethal.