May 20, 2015
By Jane Brown
Questions are being asked about how anti-psychotic medications are prescribed at long term care homes in Ontario, after a new study found wild variations in the number of residents who are taking them.
The research involved 602 long term care homes. It found that anywhere from zero to 67 percent of residents over the age of 65 are treated with anti-psychotics after a diagnosis of psychosis, dementia or other conditions that can leave individuals highly agitated.
While the drugs are calming, the side effects include a higher risk of falls, profound drowsiness, lessened quality of life and a slightly increased risk of early death. There have also been complaints the drugs are used to “chemically restrain” patients in long term care.
Joshua Tepper is the president and CEO of Health Quality Ontario which conducted the study.
He says the lesson to take from the data is that “it’s essential to individualize treatment, to make sure you use the right approach for that person.”