CHICAGO, IL – The federal government is cracking down and will begin targeting nursing homes’ abuse of antipsychotic drugs and misdiagnosis of schizophrenia in patients.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) is launching an investigation this month into select nursing homes in hopes to verify whether patients have been properly diagnosed with the psychiatric disorder.
Mountains of evidence over the course of decades show some facilities wrongly diagnose residents with schizophrenia or administer antipsychotic drugs to sedate them, despite dangerous side effects that could include death.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said, “no nursing home resident should be improperly diagnosed with schizophrenia or given an inappropriate antipsychotic.”
Some facilities may be coding residents as having schizophrenia, even if they don’t show signs of the extremely rare disorder. In fact, schizophrenia is so rare that less than 1% of the population has the disorder.
In 2012, the federal government began tracking when nursing homes use antipsychotics on residents — doing so can impact the facility’s quality rating in a public databased — but only for those who have not been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Antipsychotics for those nursing home residents has dropped to under 20% in recent years.
CMS will start targeted audits to ask nursing homes for documentation of the diagnoses in the coming days. The rating scores for nursing homes that have a pattern of inaccurately coding residents as having schizophrenia will be negatively impacted stopping short of threatening to levy fines against facilities.