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Over-prescription of antipsychotics without consent needs to stop: experts

Drugs prescribed to change behaviours in aged care residents are being misused and prescribed for longer than government guidelines allow.

Researchers from the Dementia Centre for Research Collaboration (DCRC) and the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW Sydney, assessed 146 older people living in 24 long-term care facilities across Sydney as part of the Halting Antipsychotic use in Long Term Care (HALT) project.

They looked into why anti-psychotics were prescribed and for how long, as little is currently known other than anecdotal evidence. Government guidelines limit the use of these medications to 12 weeks, and only for people with severe behaviours of a certain type. The medication is to be stopped as soon as the symptoms for which they were prescribed have improved.

“Our findings show that this had not happened for participants in the HALT project,” said lead author and PhD Candidate at CHeBA, Fleur Harrison.

Harrison and her team found that residents had been prescribed antipsychotics for longer than two years on average. This was equivalent to more than 80 per cent of the time they had been living in care and without a single adjustment to the dose in over a year.

Professor Henry Brodaty, co-director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA), joined Aged Care Insite to discuss anti-psychotics in aged care.

AgedCareInsite · Professor Henry Brodaty, Co-Director of the Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing (CHeBA) at UNSW Sydney

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