Dementia patients prescribed ‘inappropriate’ drugs

Tablets and pills

Tablets and pills - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Hundreds of dementia patients are being prescribed anti-psychotic drugs which increase the risk of stroke and can accelerate the symptoms of the disease.

The Alzheimer's Society has warned the drugs are an 'archaic and inappropriate' way to treat most people diagnosed with dementia.

According to NHS Digital figures for June, 610 dementia patients in the Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group area had been prescribed anti-psychotics in the previous six weeks.

Of those, more than 400 were given the medication despite not being diagnosed with psychosis.

A spokesman for Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group (BNSSG CCG) said: "Prescribing of anti-psychotic medications in Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire is below the national average, and the CCG remains committed to reducing the unnecessary prescribing of anti-psychotic and hypnotic medication in the elderly population, particularly those with dementia or learning difficulties.

"We are aware of the increased risk of falls, cardiovascular disease and confusion associated with these medications and continue to make sure dementia patients treated with these medications are regularly reviewed to ensure the benefit of continued treatment is greater than any risks, and has funded additional local services to support this."

The Department of Health has called for a reduction in the use of anti-psychotic drugs after analysis showed inappropriate use of them contributed to around 1,800 deaths a year.

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However, prescriptions for the drugs have risen by six per cent in England over the past year.

A spokesman for the BNSSG CCG added: "Initiatives are already in place that encourage GP practices to perform medication reviews on certain groups of patients, including those in care homes, those with frailty and those with dementia.

"Work is also being progressed to produce further guidance and information for clinicians when reviewing patients on certain medication, such as anti-psychotics, a shared decision with patients and carers as to whether it should continue or not.

"Ultimately, the clinical risk of these medications has to be balanced against the harm of not prescribing when all other measures for behavioural management have failed."