The role of the healthcare community, including skilled nursing centers is to provide high quality care and
treatment to individuals to ensure good quality of life. Unfortunately, a trend has arisen across the
country of using antipsychotic medication to help ease their treatment. In fact, 15.4% of residents are
receiving such medication. Fortunately, the figure is slightly lower in California at 11.7%.
Saying the above, this doesn’t mean that antipsychotic medications are not necessary. In fact, many of
these skilled nursing centers have a high number of dementia residents who require such medication.
These drugs often allow for a better lifestyle and resident management. They are not the sole solution but
they are most common one.
A key aspect to keep in mind is that skilled nursing facilities do not prescribe these drugs but the doctors
do. The distribution and use of antipsychotic medication is legal and strictly regulated by the state and
federal government. Such medication can only be given through informed consent by the family member
or representative. Thus, it’s important that families have the full knowledge of the impact of
California is ranked fourth in the nation in the use of antipsychotic medication. This is in the top tier but
we can do better. The number of dementia residents who are prescribed antipsychotic medication can be
reduced while improving their lifestyle.
The overall use of antipsychotics in all care settings, including hospitals, nursing homes and assisted
living communities deserves continual review. This even includes personal physicians who are
sometimes overprescribing these medications. Doctors and skilled nursing homes should be looking at
alternatives and informed consent to keep reducing the number of people being given these antipsychotic
drugs. As providers, we continue to challenge ourselves to improve and enhance the quality of life for