Senators Seek Answers from HHS on Antipsychotic Drug Use in Assisted Living
Two senators last week sent a letter seeking more information from the Health and Human Services Department on its efforts to address the improper prescribing of antipsychotic medications to older adults with dementia and on the cost to taxpayers of paying for these medicines.
Sens. Susan Collins, who chairs the Special Committee on Aging, and Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, sent the bipartisan letter to HHS Secretary Sylvia Burwell following up on a recent government report finding that nearly 30 percent of older adults living in nursing homes and nearly 14 percent living outside of nursing home care received potentially improper medications to treat symptoms of dementia.
“We are deeply troubled by these findings,” they wrote, referring to a General Accountability Office report. “Caring for seniors who suffer from dementia is a difficult job – and a sacred one. We all want to know that our loved ones are receiving the quality care and attention they deserve from the professionals to whom we entrust their care, and that their health and safety are not being put at risk because of poor oversight.”
The senators asked the department to promote more information on how the necessary reduction rates were determined, steps it’s taking to address the risk factors leading to these prescriptions, efforts by the government to explore alternative treatments for dementia, how a national dementia partnership’s actions will affect the nursing home rating system, and ways the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can help ensure that seniors with dementia outside of nursing homes, such as in assisted living, receive appropriate prescriptions.
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