• Krista Haglund, RPh

Phase Two CMS Pharmacy Requirements: Part Five

F-758 Revised Requirements for Documentation and Prescribing Psychotropic Medications

Before initiating or increasing a psychotropic medication for enduring conditions (non-acute), the resident’s diagnosis, symptoms and therapeutic goals must be clearly and specifically identified and documented thoroughly in the medical record. Any prescribed psychotropic medication must be administered at the lowest possible dosage for the shortest period of time and is subject to the Gradual Dose Reduction (GDR) requirements.

Additionally, the facility must ensure that the resident’s expressions or indications of distress are:

Not due to a medical condition or problem (e.g., pain, fluid or electrolyte imbalance, infection, obstipation, medication side effect or poly-pharmacy) that can be expected to improve or resolve as the underlying condition is treated or the offending medication(s) are discontinued;

Not due to environmental stressors alone (e.g., alteration in the resident’s customary location or daily routine, unfamiliar care provider, hunger or thirst, excessive noise for that individual, inadequate or inappropriate staff response), that can be addressed to improve the symptoms or maintain safety;

Not due to psychological stressors alone (e.g., loneliness, taunting, abuse), anxiety or fear stemming from misunderstanding related to his or her cognitive impairment (e.g., the mistaken belief that this is not where he/she lives or inability to find his or her clothes or glasses, unaddressed sensory deficits) that can be expected to improve or resolve as the situation is addressed; and

Persistent--The medical record must contain clear documentation that the resident’s distress persists and his or her quality of life is negatively affected and, unless contraindicated, that multiple, non-pharmacological approaches have been attempted and evaluated in any attempts to discontinue the psychotropic medication.

New Admissions:

Many residents are admitted to a SNF/NF already on a psychotropic medication. The medication may have been started in the hospital or the community, which can make it challenging for the IDT to identify the indication for use. However, the attending physician in collaboration with the consultant pharmacist must re-evaluate the use of the psychotropic medication and consider whether or not the medication can be reduced or discontinued upon admission or soon after admission.

When monitoring a resident receiving psychotropic medications, the facility must evaluate the effectiveness of the medications as well as look for potential adverse consequences.

If the record shows evidence of adding other psychotropic medications or switching from one type of psychotropic medication to another category of psychotropic medication, surveyors must review the medical record to determine whether the prescribing practitioner provided a rationale.

Antipsychotics Prescribing Requirements:

Diagnoses alone do not necessarily warrant the use of an antipsychotic medication. Antipsychotic medications may be indicated if:

Behavioral symptoms or expressions indicate distress or present a danger to the resident or others;

If not clinically contraindicated, multiple non-pharmacological approaches have been attempted, but did not relieve the symptoms which are presenting a danger or significant distress; and/or

GDR was attempted, but clinical symptoms returned.

If antipsychotic medications are prescribed, documentation must clearly show the indication for the antipsychotic medication, the multiple attempts to implement care-planned, non-pharmacological approaches, and ongoing evaluation of the effectiveness of these interventions

If the resident’s condition has not responded to treatment or has declined despite treatment, it is important to evaluate both the medication and the dose to determine whether the medication should be discontinued or the dosing should be altered, whether or not the facility has implemented GDR as required, or tapering.

GDR Frequency:

Within the first year in which a resident is admitted on a psychotropic medication or after the prescribing practitioner has initiated a psychotropic medication, the facility must attempt a GDR in two separate quarters (with at least one month between the attempts), unless clinically contraindicated. After the first year, a GDR must be attempted annually, unless clinically contraindicated.

When is a GDR Clinically Contraindicated?:

For any individual who is receiving a psychotropic medication to treat expressions or indications of distress related to dementia, the GDR may be considered clinically contraindicated for reasons that include, but that are not limited to:

The resident’s target symptoms returned or worsened after the most recent attempt at a GDR within the facility; AND

The physician has documented the clinical rationale for why any additional attempted dose reduction at that time would be likely to impair the resident’s function or increase distressed behavior.

For any individual who is receiving a psychotropic medication to treat a disorder not related to dementia (for example, schizophrenia, bipolar mania, depression with psychotic features, or another medical condition, other than dementia, which may cause psychosis), the GDR may be considered clinically contraindicated for reasons that include, but that are not limited to:

The continued use is in accordance with relevant current standards of practice and the physician has documented the clinical rationale for why any attempted dose reduction would be likely to impair the resident’s function or exacerbate an underlying medical or psychiatric disorder; OR

The resident’s target symptoms returned or worsened after the most recent attempt at a GDR within the facility and the physician has documented the clinical rationale for why any additional attempted dose reduction at that time would be likely to impair the resident’s function or exacerbate an underlying medical or psychiatric disorder.

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