The Trump administration recently announced getting rid of safety regulations placed on nursing homes. The administration states that the proposed changes would save nursing homes some $600 million a year, though as NPR noted, the proposed regulation reduction wouldn’t require that any savings be spent on improving patient care or increasing staffing.
One particular proposal, which experts and consumer advocates are concerned about is changing the rules for prescribing danagerous and deadly antipsychotic medications to patients at nursing homes. Concerns stem with warnings about antipsychotic drugs – used as a chemical restraint and often off-label – can often raise the risk of death in older individuals, particularly from ones already suffering from dementia, according to the NPR report.
CMS has spent years attempting to get nursing home facilities to reduce the use of antipsychotic drugs. Under current regulations, nursing home facilities cannot prescribe patients antipsychotic drugs for longer than two weeks without having a doctor reevaluate a patient. Under the new proposed regulations, nursing homes could go as long as one to two months without having a doctor evaluate a patient, according to the NPR report. There is no medical or nursing rationale for this change.
Richard Mollot, Executive Director of the Long Term Care Community Coalition told NPR that his organization opposes the rule change, and cited a doctor who explained why he likewise opposed the regulation adjustment.
“What he said was that no other insurance company would ever accept that a doctor didn’t have to see a patient before continuing a prescription for medicine,” Mollot said. “But CMS is saying now that that’s okay for nursing homes in this very vulnerable population, and people die from this. They’re affected so catastrophically.”