LANSING — State Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing) introduced House Bill 4718 last month to amend Michigan’s mental health code to define and prohibit the improper use of chemical restraint. The bill defines improper usage as the practice of using antipsychotic drugs that are not required to treat a patient’s diagnosed medical condition, but instead for discipline or convenience. Improper use of chemical restraint is of particular concern in residential nursing facilities with patients that have not given free or informed consent, many of whom have Alzheimer’s disease or another form of dementia.

“When our healthcare facilities are consistently under-staffed and under-funded, there is too great a temptation for providers to abuse or misuse chemical restraints due to a wide variety of reasons – whether it is lack of experience or training, frustration, or in some cases, malicious intent,” said Anthony. “All Michiganders should be able to trust that care providers are choosing a medication or treatment plan because it is in the best interest of the patient, not because it is the easiest choice at hand. We must fight to protect quality patient care and eliminate even the potential for this abuse.”

Each week, more than 179,000 people in nursing facilities nation-wide are administered antipsychotic drugs who have not been diagnosed with medical symptoms the drugs are approved for. HB 4718 is intended to prevent health or administrative professionals from administering an unnecessary drug to a patient for the purpose of making their job easier by restricting a patient’s movement or behavior. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Health Policy for further consideration.