We are fortunate as Americans to have access to many different kinds of healthcare and treatments. However, a new study shows that sometimes there can be too much of a – good? – thing. The study looked at new nursing home admissions in Florida, and discovered that within three months of admission, 71% of residents were prescribed a psychoactive medication! Many of these patients were not taking psychoactive drugs, such as those for depression or dementia, before placement. While a higher incidence of psychoactive drug usage in a skilled nursing facility is to be expected, 71% seems to be a bit excessive. Researchers blamed the problem mostly on systemic deficiencies, such as lack of proper training, and that mental illnesses were not until recently reimbursed at the same rate under Medicare rules.
Overmedication is a frequent problem with the older adult community. I know of a doctor’s office who regularly conducts “brown bag biopsies”: they ask their patients to bring in all of their prescription, over the counter and supplement drugs, and establish which are necessary and which may be no longer needed, or ever scarier, duplicative. So many older adults will not ask questions of their physicians and follow their directions to a tee. As family members and concerned professionals, I think we have a responsibility to ask questions about what our loved ones and clients are being prescribed – simply as an extra layer of protection. It could be as simple as suggesting your client ask their physician for a “brown bag biopsy” on their next scheduled visit.
Overmedication in the Nursing Home – NYTimes.com