Psychoactive medication therapy and delirium screening in skilled nursing facilities

Becky A. Briesacher, Brianne L. Olivieri-Mui, Benjamin Koethe, Jane S. Saczynski, Donna Marie Fick, John W. Devlin, Edward R. Marcantonio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: A positive delirium screen at skilled-nursing facility (SNF) admission can trigger a simultaneous diagnosis of Alzheimer's Disease or related dementia (AD/ADRD) and lead to psychoactive medication treatment despite a lack of evidence supporting use. Methods: This was a nationwide historical cohort study of 849,086 Medicare enrollees from 2011–2013 who were admitted to the SNF from a hospital without a history of dementia. Delirium was determined through positive Confusion Assessment Method screen and incident AD/ADRD through active diagnosis or claims. Cox proportional hazard models predicted the risk of receiving one of three psychoactive medications (i.e., antipsychotics, benzodiazepines, antiepileptics) within 7 days of SNF admission and within the entire SNF stay. Results: Of 849,086 newly-admitted SNF patients (62.6% female, mean age 78), 6.1% had delirium (of which 35.4% received an incident diagnosis of AD/ADRD); 12.6% received antipsychotics, 30.4% benzodiazepines, and 5.8% antiepileptics. Within 7 days of admission, patients with delirium and incident dementia were more likely to receive an antipsychotic (relative risk [RR] 3.09; 95% confidence interval [CI] 2.99 to 3.20), or a benzodiazepine (RR 1.23; 95% CI 1.19 to 1.27) than patients without either condition. By the end of the SNF stay, patients with both delirium and incident dementia were more likely to receive an antipsychotic (RR 3.04; 95% CI 2.95 to 3.14) and benzodiazepine (RR 1.32; 95% CI 1.29 to 1.36) than patients without either condition. Conclusion: In this historical cohort, a positive delirium screen was associated with a higher risk of receiving psychoactive medication within 7 days of SNF admission, particularly in patients with an incident AD/ADRD diagnosis. Future research should examine strategies to reduce inappropriate psychoactive medication prescribing in older adults admitted with delirium to SNFs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1517-1524
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of the American Geriatrics Society
Volume70
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology

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