Second-generation antipsychotics (SGAs) are a class of drugs used to treat psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and psychotic depression. SGAs are widely used to treat children enrolled in Medicaid who have mental health conditions. However, SGAs can have serious side effects and little clinical research has been conducted on the safety of treating children with these drugs. Consequently, children’s treatment with SGAs needs careful management and monitoring. This evaluation examines the quality of care provided to children receiving SGAs that were paid for by Medicaid.
HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
We selected a sample of 687 claims for SGAs prescribed to children in California, Florida, Illinois, New York, and Texas. These States represented approximately 39 percent of total Medicaid payments for SGAs in 2011. Board-certified child and adolescent psychiatrists reviewed medical records related to the sampled claims using seven criteria related to quality-of-care concerns (see the chart below for the criteria). We established these criteria on the basis of information and guidelines issued by various Federal and State agencies and professional associations regarding the prescribing of psychotropic drugs to children.