The federal government has announced that it will start a focused crackdown on patients’ misdiagnoses of schizophrenia in nursing homes and the overuse of antipsychotic medications.
This month, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services will begin looking into a few nursing facilities to see if patients have received the correct psychiatric diagnosis.
According to the government, there is mounting evidence that some facilities misdiagnose clients as having schizophrenia or sedate them with antipsychotic medications despite potentially fatal adverse effects.
Health and Human Services Secretary Xavier Becerra said in a statement on Wednesday that no nursing home resident should be erroneously diagnosed with schizophrenia or given an unsuitable antipsychotic . The actions we are taking today will aid in the prevention of these mistakes and provide families with comfort.
According to a federal investigation from last year, some organizations may be avoiding heightened scrutiny over the unnecessary use of antipsychotic prescriptions by diagnosing clients as having schizophrenia even when they do not exhibit symptoms of the relatively rare condition. Schizophrenia is a mental illness that affects less than 1% of people and is characterized by delusions, hallucinations, and distorted thinking.
Only for individuals who have not been diagnosed with schizophrenia, the federal government started keeping note of when nursing homes utilize antipsychotics on residents in 2012. This practice can affect the facility’s quality rating in a public database.
However, according federal data, the percentage of nursing home residents who take antipsychotics has decreased to under 20 percent in recent years.
However, according to a report released in November by the HHS Office of the Inspector General, the proportion of residents reported to have schizophrenia without a corresponding diagnosis increased dramatically between 2015 and 2019, with 99 nursing homes across the nation reporting that 20 percent or more of their residents suffer from the condition.
The report’s conclusion said that the number of unsubstantiated schizophrenia diagnoses rose and in 2019 was concentrated in a small number of nursing institutions.
In the coming days, CMS will begin targeted audits to ask nursing facilities for proof of diagnosis, concentrating on nursing homes with current residents who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia.
In a statement issued on Wednesday, CMS stopped short of threatening to levy fines on facilities and said that the rating scores for nursing homes that have a record of incorrectly classifying people as having schizophrenia will be negatively impacted.
According to top HHS officials who asked to remain anonymous to brief The Associated Press on the situation on Tuesday, the agency does not have any current plans to personally interfere in the patients’ care or contact families of residents who have been incorrectly categorized or administered antipsychotics.
According to officials, CMS will keep an eye on the facilities to ensure that the problems are fixed.
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