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Nursing homes across the United States routinely give antipsychotic drugs to residents with dementia to control their behavior, despite rules against the misuse of drugs as “chemical restraints,” Human Rights Watch said in a report and video released today. This abusive practice remains widespread, even though the use of antipsychotic drugs on older people with dementia is associated with a nearly doubled risk of death.
The 157-page report, “‘They Want Docile’: How Nursing Homes in the United States Overmedicate People with Dementia,” estimates that every week in US nursing facilities, more than 179,000 people, mostly older and living with dementia, are given antipsychotic drugs without an appropriate diagnosis. Facilities administer these drugs in many cases without obtaining informed consent from residents or their families.
The report is based on visits by Human Rights Watch researchers to more than 100 nursing facilities in six states and more than 300 interviews with people living in facilities, their families, staff, long-term care and disability experts, government officials, and advocates.
Medicare beneficiaries, including elders and disabled persons, are being treated at inpatient and outpatient medical facilities for conditions that may be the result of abuse or neglect. The Elder Justice Act recognizes an older person's rights, including the right to be free of abuse, neglect, and exploitation. In addition, all 50 States have mandated reporter laws for the reporting of the potential abuse or neglect of elders and vulnerable persons. Prior OIG reviews have shown that there are problems with the quality of care and the reporting and investigation of potential abuse or neglect at group homes, nursing homes, and skilled nursing facilities. By analyzing the treating medical facilities' diagnoses, we will determine the prevalence of the potential abuse or neglect of Medicare beneficiaries. We will also determine whether the potential abuse or neglect occurred at a medical facility or at another location, such as the Medicare beneficiary's home.
CMS has established a Cyber Emergencies resource page.
The Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently issued an early alert about its investigation into the reporting of abuse or neglect to law enforcement by skilled nursing facilities. “We identified 134 Medicare beneficiaries whose injuries may have been the result of potential abuse or neglect that occurred from Jan. 1, 2015, through Dec. 31, 2016,” said the OIG. “We also found that a significant percentage of these incidents may not have been reported to law enforcement.”
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