There are approximately 350 nursing homes in Georgia and three-quarters of them earned less than the five-star rating awarded by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for their overall performance in health inspections, nurse staffing and quality of medical care. However, there is some encouraging news. In 2013, our state reduced its use of antipsychotic medications on nursing home residents by 26 percent, one of the largest drops in the country. The national average was 15 percent. The overuse of antipsychotics in nursing home patients and the negative outcomes associated with their use are well-documented.
The decrease was the result of a pilot program driven by the CMS to reduce the use of antipsychotics in managing dementia patients in nursing homes. In 2011, almost a third of Georgia nursing home patients were on antipsychotic drugs, which have been linked to death, falls with fractures, heart failure, pneumonia and hospitalizations – all leading to high medical costs. In fact, in 2011, Medicare Part D spending on antipsychotic drugs totaled $7.6 billion and accounted for 8.4 percent of Part D spending. The CMS is now calling for a 25 percent reduction in use of antipsychotics for dementia patients by the end of 2015 and for a total of 30 percent by the end of 2016.
At 36th, Georgia now ranks better than two-thirds of the states in its use of antipsychotics for long-term stay nursing home residents. However, more can be done given Georgia’s proximity to North and South Carolina, which rank 6th and 7th respectively. Improving dementia care helps improve the quality of life and of healthcare for all patients. If you have concerns about whether a nursing home has improperly medicated your loved one, please contact the personal injury lawyers of The Mann Law Firm. We can be reached by calling 478-742-3381 or through our online form.