By Michael Connors, CANHR Advocate
Daniel Levinson, the Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, proved again this week that he will help lead the fight against the widespread chemical restraint of nursing home residents. On May 31, 2011, CNN published a powerful article by Inspector General Levinson, with a title that speaks volumes about his message: Cause for alarm: Antipsychotic drugs for nursing home patients.
The Inspector General’s CNN column closely follows his May 9, 2011 statement condemning those who use misuse antipsychotic drugs to chemically restrain nursing home residents.
The Inspector General presented a call-to-action that echoes our own by urging the following solutions:
- Family members of nursing home residents must learn about their loved ones’ medications, the reasons for their use, proper dosages and possible side effects.
- Nursing homes and pharmacies that serve the elderly must keep the best interests of the patient in mind when dispensing pharmaceuticals and not base the decision on the improper influence of drug companies.
- Doctors, too, should rely on their best medical judgments and engage in an especially careful analysis when prescribing drugs for off-label use.
- Government must combat illegal off-label promotion of these powerful and potentially lethal drugs and uphold nursing home safety standards.
- And drug companies should follow the laws, and refrain from promoting drugs for unapproved uses — or paying kickbacks to influence doctors and institutions.
Inspector General Levinson, we applaud you for your courage and bold leadership on this issue.