CMS Wants to Probe Opioid Use at Skilled Nursing Facilities

Amid ongoing concerns about overuse of opioids, the federal government wants to survey nursing home operators about drug safety.

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) proposed a survey of  1,200 nursing home administrators or directors of nursing, community-based pharmacists, and physicians to evaluate its medication safety and adverse drug event prevention programs — with a focus on opioid overuse and overdose.

The participants were chosen based on their role in administering high-risk medications and in treating adverse drug events, according to a notice scheduled to be published on the Federal Register on Friday. Adverse drug events (ADEs) are defined as “injury resulting from medical intervention related to a drug,” according to CMS.


The government wants to see how well a variety of initiatives — including the National Action Plan for Adverse Drug Prevention and its Quality Improvement Organizations — have worked in helping to curb the use of certain drugs, while also assessing the impact on health care providers.

“In 2016, over 14 million Medicare Part D beneficiaries received opioid prescriptions, and many of these beneficiaries received extreme amounts of the drugs,” the notice read. “The Medicare population has one of the highest and fastest-growing rates of diagnosed opioid use disorder.”

The skilled nursing industry has seen some success in reducing use of antipsychotic drugs, though a report from Human Rights Watch earlier this year estimated that more than 179,000 people in U.S. nursing facilities are inappropriately given antipsychotic drugs. One study published last year in the Annals of Internal Medicine noted that implementing a medication review intervention could lower the use of inappropriate drugs in SNFs.


Written by Maggie Flynn

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