by Michael Connors, CANHR Advocate
According to a new report by the British government, the number of people with dementia who are being given antipsychotics dropped by more than half (52 percent) between 2008 and 2011. The remarkable findings are documented in a July 2012 report, the National Dementia and Antipsychotic Prescribing Audit.
The stunning decrease is for anyone with a diagnosis of dementia, not just those in nursing homes. In contrast, U.S. efforts to reduce antipsychotic use for persons with dementia are mostly focused on nursing home residents. There is relatively little attention focused on their misuse in hospitals, assisted living facilities or at home, and no organized process to measure use or reduction in these settings.
The British audit also found similarly steep drops in the prescription of antianxiety, hypnotic and antidepressant drugs for this population. This is a very positive sign that it is possible to reduce antipsychotic use for people with dementia without subjecting them to other psychoactive drugs that have low benefits and high risks.
Despite the dramatic reductions, the audit report emphasizes that Britain still has a long way to go to stop the misuse of antipsychotics for persons with dementia. In 2009, Britain set a goal of reducing antipsychotic use for people with dementia by two-thirds within 36 months. This goal compares very favorably with the current CMS goal to reduce antipsychotic use by 15 percent for most long-stay nursing home residents by year-end.
The impressive British results give new inspiration to our efforts to improve dementia care here.