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Bill addressing overuse of antipsychotic drugs in long-term care facilities heads to Senate floor


OKLAHOMA CITY – The Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously approved legislation Monday afternoon to better protect the health of residents in long-term care and assisted living centers. House Bill 1877, by Sen. Bill Coleman, R-Ponca City, creates new procedures to further slow the over-prescribing of antipsychotic drugs to elderly Oklahomans in such facilities.

“Similar legislation was passed two years ago to address the over-prescribing of antipsychotic drugs in nursing homes, which led to a significant drop in their misuse in those facilities. This bill will extend those protections to long-term care and assisted living centers to ensure all of Oklahomans seniors are protected,” Coleman said. “This will ensure that a resident’s family is told when their loved one is prescribed these types of drugs and know of any adverse reactions, so they can make informed decisions about their care moving forward.”

Under HB 1877, patients who are categorized as needing medical assistance and have been prescribed an antipsychotic must be monitored quarterly for adverse effects and that they or their representative remain informed of their condition. It also requires staff to be trained to be aware of the side effects of antipsychotic use. The bill also puts into place documentation standards for the use of antipsychotics “as needed” to help deter abuse.

Antipsychotics are used to reduce agitation and other disruptive behaviors, which are often symptoms of underlying illnesses or conditions that, without a proper medical diagnosis, may go untreated. These drugs are often prescribed to patients with dementia, and numerous studies have found that their use can contribute to accelerated cognitive decline and an increased risk of stroke, pneumonia and death.

A 2019 report by the House Ways and Means Committee Majority found that while only about 2% of skilled nursing facility residents in the U.S. qualified for an antipsychotic prescription, some 20% of residents were receiving the drugs.

The measure is supported by the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) Oklahoma, Oklahoma Assisted Living Association (OKALA), Alzheimer’s Association of Oklahoma, LeadingAge Oklahoma, Oklahoma Aging Partnership, Oklahoma Silver Haired Legislature and the State Long-term Care Ombudsman.

HB 1877, by Rep. Tammy West, R-OKC, will next be considered by the full Senate.