William Eichler 05 August 2022

Prescribing of harmful antipsychotics in care homes up 50%

Prescribing of harmful antipsychotics in care homes up 50%  image
Image: Photographee.eu/Shutterstock.com.

The prescribing of potentially harmful antipsychotics to people with dementia increased by more than 50% in a third of care homes during the pandemic, new research has found.

Led by the University of Exeter and King’s College London, the research looked at antipsychotic prescribing for people with dementia in UK care homes, comparing current prescribing and pre pandemic prescription rates.

Overall, the number of people with dementia receiving these prescriptions has soared from 18% to 28% since 2018, with prescription rates of over 50% in a third of care homes.

Antipsychotic drugs are used to treat some of the more distressing behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, such as agitation and psychotic episodes.

However, according to the researchers, they only have short-term benefits but significantly increase the risk of serious side effects, including stroke, accelerated decline, and death.

Professor Clive Ballard, University of Exeter, said: ‘COVID-19 put tremendous pressure on care homes, and the majority of them must be applauded for maintaining relatively low antipsychotic prescribing levels amid incredibly difficult circumstances.

‘However, there were very significant rises in antipsychotic prescribing in one third of care homes and we urgently need to find ways to prioritise support to prevent people with dementia being exposed to significant harms.’

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