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Use of antipsychotics soaring at Ontario nursing homes


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http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/04/15/use_of_antipsychotics_soaring_at_ontario_nursing_homes.html

 

Use of antipsychotics soaring at Ontario nursing homes

 

Powerful, potentially lethal drugs are used off-label to control behaviour among dementia patients at alarming rates in some homes.

 

Ontario nursing homes are drugging helpless seniors at an alarming rate with powerful antipsychotic drugs, despite warnings that the medications can kill elderly patients suffering from dementia.

 

A Star investigation has found that some long-term care homes, often struggling with staffing shortages, are routinely doling out these risky drugs to calm and “restrain” wandering, agitated and sometimes aggressive patients. At more than 40 homes across the province, roughly half the residents are on the drugs. At close to 300 homes, more than a third of the residents are on the drugs.

 

The medications — including olanzapine, quetiapine and at least 10 others — are not approved by Health Canada for the elderly with dementia. Pharmaceutical companies have issued the strongest possible caution, known as a black-box warning, on their labelling.

 

“Elderly patients with dementia treated with atypical antipsychotic drugs are at an increased risk of death compared to placebo,” the warning says, adding that these patients face a 60 per cent increased risk of death compared with similar patients who are not taking these drugs.

Family members, doctors, and in one case the provincial coroner believe that prescriptions for these drugs have contributed to the deaths of Ontario seniors with dementia.

 

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I am not a medical professional and nothing I say is a medical opinion or meant to be medical advice, please seek a competent and trusted medical professional to consult for all medical decisions.

 

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