By Mark Richardson, Texas News Service
AUSTIN, Texas – Nursing homes in Texas are routinely over-medicating residents with strong antipsychotic drugs, according to federal data, and AARP Texas is pushing state regulators to end the practice. A report from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services said in Texas, nursing-home residents are often improperly given the dangerous drugs as a chemical means of restraint.
Amanda Fredriksen, the associate director for outreach and advocacy with AARP Texas, said the state’s nursing homes are among the worst in the nation for improperly using the powerful drugs.
“At this point, Texas ranks 48th, really can’t get any closer to the bottom,” she said. “We’ve got one in five residents in Texas nursing homes who are being given an antipsychotic, and they have absolutely no diagnosis that warrants that medication.”
Fredriksen said as nursing homes have moved away from using physical means to restrain residents, the use of antipsychotics has steadily increased. She adds using these drugs can also be a staff convenience, stemming from facilities either not having enough workers, or poor training in dealing with behavioral issues.
Fredriksen also said antipsychotic drugs often have strong side effects that can endanger older people’s health. She cites a 2015 state review board report that recommended a package of reforms to clamp down on bad actors in the nursing-home field. However, most of those reforms are still awaiting action by the Texas Legislature.
“We are pushing the state to use all of their regulatory authority to move these nursing homes to take this issue very seriously,” she added. “We think more needs to be done to hold nursing-home operators accountable.”
Fredriksen advises family members who suspect a loved one is being improperly medicated can consult that person’s doctor. They can also contact an ombudsman with the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services to file a complaint.
The full report can be read online here.