Report: Overuse of Anti-Psychotic Drugs is Linked to Many Deaths

An official BBC report, released this week, says needless use of anti-psychotic drugs is widespread in nursing homes and assisted living facilities and contributes to the death of many patients.

About 180,000 patients a year are given the drugs to manage aggression. But the expert review said the treatment was unnecessary in nearly 150,000 cases and has been linked to 1,800 deaths in the UK.

The government in England has agreed to take the following steps to reduce use of the drugs:

  • Improving access to other types of therapy, such as counseling
  • Better monitoring of prescribing practices
  • Guidance for families explaining what they can do if they are worried about drug use
  • Specialist training in dementia for health and social care staff
  • Appointment of a new national director for dementia to oversee the measures

The government agreement to take action comes after long-running concerns about the use of anti-psychotic drugs. Over the past 30 years, nursing homes and assisted living facilities have increasingly turned to anti-psychotic drugs, which were originally aimed at people with schizophrenia, as the number of people with dementia rises.

The doctors behind the review do believe there are situations where anti-psychotic drug use is necessary, but believe a significant reduction in it's use would be beneficial to many long term care patients.

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Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.