Federal lawmakers received two major reports last week on the troubling lack of oversight at the federal level of the prescribing of psychiatric drugs to two of our nation’s most vulnerable populations: foster children and the elderly in care facilities.
A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report on the massive psychiatric drugging of foster children recommended that federal health officials do more to monitor how state agencies oversee Medicaid doctors’ prescribing of powerful, mind-altering drugs to children who end up in the state’s care after being abused, neglected or abandoned.
Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., requested the GAO investigation after receiving numerous complaints about the quantity of drugs being prescribed and the adverse effects of the drugs experienced by foster kids.
The GAO recommended that the US Department of Health and Human Services come up with guidance for states on how to oversee the prescribing of psychiatric drugs for foster children.
In a separate investigation, government inspectors called on Medicare officials to do more to stop doctors from prescribing powerful psychiatric drugs for the elderly living in care facilities.
In particular, antipsychotics are given to hundreds of thousands of elderly nursing home patients to sedate them and make them more manageable.
But the drugs carry an increased risk of death for seniors, which led the FDA to issue warnings against prescribing the drugs to the elderly.
Despite repeated government warnings, the unapproved practice has continued.
The HHS Inspector General told the Senate Committee on Aging that Medicare should begin penalizing nursing homes that overdrug with antipsychotics . Medicare could force nursing homes to pay for drugs that are prescribed wrongly and bar the facilities from the Medicare program.
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