Caring Times, September 2012
The percentage of dementia patients being prescribed antipsychotic drugs fell sharply over the last six years, says a new report from the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC). However, there was strong regional variation, with rates of prescribing of antipsychotic drugs up to six times higher in some areas than in others.
The use of antipsychotic medication can lead to serious side effects for people with dementia. The first ever national primary care audit on the subject shows the percentage of dementia patients being prescribed antipsychotic drugs fell by ten percentage points in the last six years – from 17% in 2006 to 7% in 2011.
Information from nearly 197,000 people with dementia from more than 3,800 practices in England was submitted to National Dementia and Antipsychotic Prescribing Audit. Its findings showed: There was a 52% reduction in the number of people with dementia receiving a prescription of antipsychotic medication from 2008 to 2011. The number of people newly diagnosed each year with dementia in the participating practices increased by 68% in the years from 2006 to 2011.
There is a higher prevalence of diagnosed dementia in women (66%) than in men. Most people diagnosed with dementia were aged 65 years and above (95%). HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said the report threw new light on prescribing patterns for dementia patients and highlighted areas that GPs and other practices who want to deliver the best possible care needed to focus on.
“It is encouraging that prescribing of antipsychotic drugs is falling,” said Mr Straughan.
“However, it is clear that the picture nationally is mixed and that everyone involved in the care of those with dementia needs to look carefully at how they compare with others in their practices.”
The full report is at www.ic.nhs.uk/dementiaaudit