Antipsychotic Reduction Milestone Achieved

For Immediate Release
February 14, 2017                                                                                         


Antipsychotic Reduction Milestone Achieved
Sixth Best in the Nation

SACRAMENTO – California skilled nursing providers have reached an important milestone and now rank sixth best in the nation in reducing the use of antipsychotic medication.According to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), as of Q3 2016 the use of antipsychotic medication in California was 12.7 percent compared to the national average of 16.1 percent.

"This is a significant achievement because of the sheer size of California compared to other states," said Jocelyn Montgomery, CAHF director of clinical affairs who noted that the Golden State has three times the number of facilities compared to other states in the top five ranking.

Since 2013, CAHF members have been participating in the National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, an effort to safely reduce the unnecessary use of antipsychotic medication in skilled nursing homes by 15 percent initially and then by 30 percent.  Since the beginning of the national campaign, California providers have reduced the overall use of antipsychotic medication by 41 percent.  CMS Report

The National Partnership to Improve Dementia Care, launched in 2012, challenged skilled nursing providers to reduce the use of unnecessary antipsychotic medication after studies revealed nearly one in four Medicare beneficiaries were receiving daily doses – in the absence of a diagnosis of psychosis.

Antipsychotics have been used in the treatment of schizophrenia and bipolar disorders for decades, but physicians were increasingly ordering the off-label use of these medications for patients with dementia to reduce agitation.  More than 50 percent of patients in long-term care settings suffer from some form of cognitive decline.

The effort to reduce antipsychotics was also prompted by the issuance of a black box warning by the Food and Drug Administration indicating use of the drugs were associated with an increased risk of death in elderly patients with dementia. California providers remain active participants in the national Partnership and continue to work to reduce antipsychotics usage.

The antipsychotic reduction effort involved the ongoing education of families, staff, pharmacists and physicians who prescribe antipsychotics, the development of toolkits and new approaches to care and a systemic change in nurse management practices.

Founded in 1950, the California Association of Health Facilities is a non-profit, professional organization representing more than 800 skilled-nursing facilities and 500 intermediate care facilities for individuals with intellectual disabilities. Each year, our 135,000 caregivers provide short-term rehabilitation, long-term care, end-of-life assistance and habilitative nursing services for 350,000 people. CAHF is the largest provider of continuing education for long-term care providers in California.  For more information, visit or contact Deborah Pacyna,