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Roughly 80% of nursing home residents on Medicare have been prescribed a psychotropic drug

Roughly 80% of nursing home residents on Medicare have been prescribed a psychotropic drug. That’s according to a newly released report by the Office of Inspector General. 

Over the last decade or so, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid took steps to reduce the use of one type of psychotropics: antipsychotics. That, according to the report, increased the use of another drug: anticonvulsants.

The OIG found that there was a higher use of psychotropic drugs in nursing homes where there were lower nursing staff ratios. There was also a nearly 200% increase in the number of residents diagnosed with schizophrenia without a corresponding diagnosis before their admission.

The OIG report made several recommendations, like requiring Medicare Part D prescribers to provide diagnostic codes when prescribing these types of medications. 

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KJZZ senior field correspondent Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.