A new Human Rights Watch report released Monday estimates that each week more than 179,000 people living in U.S. nursing facilities are given antipsychotic medications, even though they do not have the approved psychiatric diagnoses to warrant use of the drugs. Most of these residents are older and have dementia, and researchers say the antipsychotic medications are administered as a cost-effective "chemical restraint" to suppress behaviors and ease the load on overwhelmed staff. Researchers visited 109 facilities in six states between October 2016 and March 2017. They interviewed 323 people, including residents, family members, nurses, social workers, long-term care experts, and pharmacists. Human Rights Watch notes the government is required under the Nursing Home Reform Act of 1987 to protect the rights of residents. "CMS appreciates the work done by the Human Rights Watch on this vital issue and is working towards a goal that ensures America's nursing home residents receive safe, high-quality care that is clinically appropriate," the division said in a statement. The report suggests the government can address the inappropriate administration of antipsychotic medications by enforcing regulations and penalties, improving inspections, requiring informed consent, and ensuring adequate staffing and training in care facilities. CMS notes it instituted new goals as of the end of 2017. Among the goals is an expectation that nursing facilities which still overuse antipsychotic drugs will decrease their use by 15% by the end of 2019.