Call for action on antipsychotic overuse in dementia care

The Dementia Action Alliance has called for a clinical review of all UK dementia patients being administered antipsychotic drugs to ensure care is compliant with current guidelines and that alternative medications have been considered.

The alliance of some 50 health and social care organisations is calling for the review to be carried out 31 March 2012.

Antipsychotics are often prescribed as a first response to behavioural and psychological symptoms of dementia, such as distress or agitation, even though in an estimated two-thirds of cases use of these agents is considered inappropriate. Antipsychotic drugs are linked to serious side-effects in dementia patients, including mobility problems, sedation and sometimes death, particularly when used for longer than 12 weeks.

To achieve a reduction in the use of these drugs, eight groups, including people with dementia and carers, GPs, leaders in care homes and pharmacists, are being asked to sign up to commitments outlining how they can play their part in ensuring reviews take place.

To support the initiative, Dementia Action Alliance has produced best practice guidance on the use of antipsychotics. For copies of these resources and for more information on antipsychotics, visit the Alzheimer's Society website.