Connecticut still ranks high among states in the use of antipsychotic drugs for elderly nursing home residents, but its rate of use has dropped 33 percent since 2011 – a bigger decline than the national average — new government data show. The data released in June by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), show that nursing home residents in Connecticut, many with dementia, are still more likely to be given antipsychotics than their counterparts in 31 other states. But the state’s usage has fallen in the last 4 ½ years at a greater rate than the average drop of 27 percent, and it is now about the same as the national average — 17.4 percent. That’s down from 26 percent in 2011. CMS has been working with states for the past five years to address the overuse of antipsychotic medications in nursing homes.
US Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Wednesday that while he is pleased that the state has cut its rate of antipsychotic prescribing in nursing homes, he wants to see more progress. He made the comments after meeting with a group of elder care representatives to discuss a recent news report showing that nursing home residents in Connecticut – many with dementia — are still more likely to be given antipsychotics than their counterparts in 33 other states. On the positive side, the state’s usage rate has dropped 21.6 percent since 2011 – more than the national average. “The challenge is, how do we do better?” Blumenthal said. “Better results are well within reach,” but they require training, adequate staffing and “a new mindset and outlook” that allows for alternative approaches to antipsychotic prescribing.
The Westside Care Center in Manchester is ranked among the best nursing homes in Connecticut, receiving a ‘five-star’ rating for overall quality under a federal rating system. At the same time, Westside has the state’s highest percentage of residents who receive antipsychotic drugs, even though they do not have a psychosis or related condition that regulators say warrants their use. Federal data shows 68 percent of Westside long-stay residents were receiving the drugs – more than double the state’s average of 26 percent, which already ranks in the top-third of states nationally. A C-HIT review of federal nursing home data from December found that Westside is not alone: High antipsychotic use, considered dangerous and unnecessary in many cases, does not impact quality ratings of nursing homes, and is often unknown to consumers selecting a home. In three-dozen Connecticut homes, at least a third of long-stay residents are on antipsychotics – yet nearly half of those homes have excellent overall ratings, of 4 to 5 stars.