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Connecting nursing home staff with clinicians to reduce antipsychotic use

June 6, 2016
by Nicole Stempak, Senior Editor
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Nursing home residents with Alzheimer’s disease or dementia were less likely to need antipsychotics if staff regularly talked with dementia care specialists, according to a new study published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Medical Directors Association.

Frontline nursing home staff spoke twice a month by video conference with clinicians who specialize in elder care, inducing a geriatrician, geropsychiatrist and neurologist about anonymized residents with dementia.

Researchers found over an 18-month period residents at the 11 participating nursing homes were 75 percent less likely to be physically restrained and 17 percent less likely to be prescribed antipsychotic medication compared with residents in control facilities.

“There is one way to try and get antipsychotic use down with carrots and sticks, and with penalizing. The other is to give people tools to do this,” says lead study author Stephen E. Gordon, MD, MBA at the Division of Gerontology at the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, to The Boston Globe.

Nationwide, 17.5 percent of nursing home residents receive antipsychotic medications according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Antipsychotics can increase the risk of infections and cardiovascular complications, among other side effects.


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