Specialized Information for:

Nursing HomesAssisted Living/Board & Care Home and Community Based Services
Back to Issues

Antipsychotic Drugs

Used appropriately, medications can cure disease, ease pain, and enhance quality of life. Used inappropriately, drugs can cause disability, pain, and decrease quality of life. Antipsychotic drugs affect the brain and influence thinking, feeling, and reacting. These drugs pose special risks for older people and increase the risk of death in persons with dementia. Antipsychotic drugs used to treat behavioral symptoms in place of good care are called chemical restraints.

Click on the links below to find more information on the topic of the misuse of antipsychotic medications.

Resources Produced by NORC


The National Long-Term Care Ombudsman Resource Center (NORC) developed a toolkit (in part through a grant from AoA/ACL) on the misuse of antipsychotic medications among nursing home residents. This toolkit contains take-away resources for consumers, family members, and advocates. The toolkit explains how to recognize symptoms of the improper use of antipsychotics; the rights of residents under federal nursing home laws and regulations; and advocacy considerations for consumers, family members, and advocates. The contents of the toolkit include the following:


In September 2012, the National Ombudsman Resource Center hosted a webinar entitled "Ending Misuse of Antipsychotics in Long-Term Care." This webinar included a discussion of the dangers and signs of inappropriate antipsychotic drug use, successful alternative person-centered treatments and therapies, resources for more information and current national and state-level efforts to reduce inappropriate medications. 

  • Mary Evans, MD CMD - President, Virginia Medical Directors Association (PDF)
  • Morris Kaplan, Esq., NHA - President, Kaplan Health Management, LLC and Operating Partner, Gwynedd Square Nursing Center (please note that the videos have been deleted from this version) (PDF)
  • Claire Curry - Legal Director, Civil Advocacy Program of the Legal Aid Justice Center (PDF)
  • Also, a recording of the webinar can be downloaded.


Resources Produced by Consumer Voice

Avoiding Drugs as Chemical Restraints: Changing the Culture of Care Consumer Education Campaign


National Data on Antipsychotic Use in Nursing Homes

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) Nursing Home Compare Website
This resource allows users to research data on individual nursing homes, including the percentage of residents receiving antipsychotic medications under the section entitled 'Quality Measures'. It also lists the state average and the national average of antipsychotic use in comparison to each individual nursing home's data.

ProPublica's Nursing Home Inspect Website
This resource allows you to search nursing home inspection reports listing deficiencies cited in nursing homes nationwide. You can search by state, severity of the deficiency and by keyword to find deficiencies related to the inappropriate use of antipsychotic medications in individual nursing homes.


Other Useful Resources and Links

Federal Nursing Home Regulations and Guidance (NORC webpage)

CMS Website on Nursing Homes
This page from CMS includes information about the revised regulations, frequently asked questions, and other related resources regarding nursing homes. Visit the CMS website

Revisions to State Operations Manual
CMS released an advance copy of revisions to the State Operations Manual (SOM), Appendix PP with the revised regulations and tags. Visit the CMS website to find the most recent link to the State Operations Manual (SOM).

CMS Surveyor Training - This online training on the Use of Antipsychotic Medication by CMS for surveyors, includes three modules, Overview of Antipsychotic Medication Use in Nursing Homes, Surveying for Antipsychotic Medication Use in Nursing Homes, and Severity & Scope Guidance: Antipsychotic Medication Use in Nursing Homes.

Government Reports


Ombudsman Program Examples

View Ombudsman program examples on antipsychotic drugs


Information to Share with Consumers

Information About Inappropriate Drug Use for Long-Term Care Consumers

The Misuse of Antipsychotics in Long-Term Care Facilities

Nursing Home Compare

Return to Top

Back to Issues