State regulators rarely take action against Massachusetts nursing homes that, counter to federal guidelines, use powerful antipsychotic sedatives to control unruly elderly residents, a Boston Globe investigation has found. Just 27 homes were cited for unnecessary use of antipsychotics from 2009-11, and inspectors in each of those cases did not deem the incidents as serious. The homes were not fined. Antipsychotics are intended for patients with severe mental illness and a handful of other conditions, but many homes administer them more broadly.
The Boston Globe examined data on more than 15,600 nursing homes across the nation for its investigation of antipsychotic overuse. The information was supplied by the US Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services, 19 months after a Freedom of Information Act request was submitted.