WBIR had an article on the off label use of anti-psychotics in nursing homes. Health officials believe that too many patients with dementia are being given antipsychotics in an "off-label" use to control behavior instead of treating their dementia symptoms through non-pharmacologic therapy. Prescribing antipsychotics - approved by the FDA to treat schizophrenia and bipolar disorder among conditions - can expose a patient to medical risks. The FDA requires that the packaging on those drugs contain a "black box warning" that administering them to elderly dementia patients increases the chance of death and can have other harmful side effects.
State health officials in Tennessee say the overuse of antipsychotic drugs nursing homes, particularly on those diagnosed with dementia, is a huge problem. About 30 percent of long-term nursing home residents in Tennessee are given antipsychotics, according to statistics collected by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The national average is 23.8 percent, which federal officials want cut by 15 percent by year-end.
Dispensing pills is an effort to silence residents who are "acting out" without trying to find the underlying cause. However, this increases the risk of fatal falls.