Kids in Calif., Other States Improperly Prescribed Psychiatric Drugs
Many low-income children in five states -- including California -- are inappropriately prescribed psychiatric medications, according to a recent HHS Office of Inspector General report, the San Jose Mercury News reports.
Details of Report
For the report, OIG reviewed 2011 records for about 485 children in:
- New York; and
The review focused on children in families who qualify for Medicaid, including some cases of children in foster care.
Altogether, the five states represented 39% of all Medicaid payments for psychiatric drugs in 2011.
Overall, the report found "quality of care concerns" in about 66% of cases.
Specifically, the report found that:
- About 53% of children were poorly monitored for many physiological and behavioral changes (de Sá, San Jose Mercury News, 3/28);
- About 41% received the wrong treatments; and
- About 37% received too many medications (HHS OIG report, March 2015).
OIG also found that just 8% of claims met the "medically accepted" standard, while many of the prescribed drugs were administered for non-FDA approved treatments.
The authors recommended that state and federal health officials:
- Ensure there are adequate rationales for prescribing psychiatric drugs to children;
- Improve tracking of psychiatric medication to children; and
- Properly monitor the drugs once prescribed and adjust dosages if necessary.
Bill Grimm -- a senior attorney at the National Center for Youth Law who has been working with California lawmakers on issues related to overprescribing such medications -- said the report's recommendations do not go far enough.
He said, "The same protections that are afforded seniors against the misuses of these medications should be afforded to our children" (San Jose Mercury News, 3/28).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.