Over the past few years, several organizations have joined in the effort to provide guidance on decreasing the off-label use of antipsychotic medications. In March 2012, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) launched a quality initiative that included a goal of a 15 percent reduction by December 2012. In September 2014, CMS announced that the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care had met its first goal and set a new one – a 25 percent reduction by the end of 2015 and 30 percent by 2016.¹
Thus far, Georgia is one of the top five states with the highest reduction rate – 28.1 percent.
More than half of all long-term care residents have some form of dementia and subsequently experience behavioral and psychological symptoms. Residents experiencing these symptoms are often best treated with non-pharmacological approaches, such as environmental modifications. While there are many legitimate uses for antipsychotic medications – such as treatment for schizophrenia, delusions, hallucinations, or aggressive behaviors – these drugs are often used inappropriately, and the clinical evidence documenting their efficacy is varied.
Being a part of this national initiative is important, but Guardian Pharmacy of Atlanta is also equally committed to individually supporting each community we serve in improving their residents’ quality of life. Our consultant team of pharmacists and registered nurses use a three-tiered approach to reducing antipsychotics. First, we educate the administration and staff on the appropriate and inappropriate uses of antipsychotic medications. Next, we help staff monitor their percentage of use and recommend residents who should be evaluated by a physician to determine if the antipsychotic can be reduced or discontinued. Finally, we provide follow up and continuing education for all parties involved, including the family members of the residents.
For more information on our efforts to reduce off-label use of antipsychotics, please contact Lori Newcomb at 404-309-4958.