At least 21 percent of nursing home residents are on antipsychotic drugs, a Times investigation found.
Between 2015 and 2018, the most recent data available, the use of anti-seizure drugs rose 15 percent in nursing home residents with dementia, according to an analysis of Medicare insurance claims that researchers at the University of Michigan prepared for The Times.
And while Depakote’s use rose, antipsychotic prescriptions fell 16 percent.
“The prescribing is far higher than you would expect based on the actual amount of epilepsy in the population,” said Dr. Donovan Maust, a geriatric psychiatrist at the University of Michigan who conducted the research.
Nursing homes are required to report to federal regulators how many of their patients take a wide variety of psychotropic drugs — not just antipsychotics but also anti-anxiety medications, antidepressants and sleeping pills. But homes do not have to report Depakote or similar drugs to the federal government.
“It is like an arrow pointing to that class of medications, like ‘Use us, use us!’” Dr. Maust said. “No one is keeping track of this.”