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Hike in drugs given to older patients after care home admission

The dispensing of psychotropic drugs to older people increases on entry to care homes, according to the findings of a study in Northern Ireland.

Queen’s University Belfast researchers analysed two years of prescribing data for 250,617 people aged 65 or over, looking in particular at drug uptake during the transition from community to care.

They found psychotropic drug use was higher in care homes than the community –20.3% of those in homes were dispensed an antipsychotic compared with 1.1% in the community.

People who entered care had higher use of psychotropic drugs before entry than those who did not enter care, but this increased “sharply” in the month of admission and continued to rise, the researchers found.

Antipsychotic drug dispensing increased from 8.2% before entry to 18.6% after entering care, while hypnotic drug dispensing rose from 14.8% to 26.3%.

This study authors noted that use of psychotropic medication in a small proportion of residents of care homes was a continuation of a prescription started before entry.

But one in six individuals with no history of psychotropic drug use in the six months before entry had been exposed to at least one antipsychotic prescription within six months of entering care.

Lead author Aideen Maguire said: “Antipsychotic uptake in Northern Ireland is similar to that in the rest of the UK and Ireland, and this study highlights the need for routine medicines reviews especially during the transition into care.”

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