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16-07-2012 | General practice | Article

Drop in antipsychotics for dementia

Abstract

National Dementia and Antipsychotic Prescribing Audit 2012

MedWire News: GPs have cut down on the prescribing of antipsychotic medications to patients with dementia, audit findings reveal.

Figures released today show that 5% of dementia patients in England were prescribed an antipsychotic last year, compared with 17% 5 years ago, a 52% reduction.

The data suggest that government initiatives from 2009 to improve the care of dementia, in particular to stop inappropriate prescribing of antipsychotics, have had a positive impact.

However, there is still considerable regional variation in prescribing, with 13% of patients with dementia prescribed antipsychotics in the North West last year, compared with just 2% of patients in London.

The findings come from the National Dementia and Antipsychotic Prescribing Audit, published by the Health and Social Care Information Centre (HSCIC), which collected data from 3,850 general practices (representing 46% of all practices) in England; the report is based on 196,695 patients with a dementia diagnosis who were actively registered at a practice during the audit period.

The results also highlight the increasing prevalence of dementia - the number of patients diagnosed with the condition has increased by 68% over the past 5 years.

HSCIC chief executive Tim Straughan said: "This audit breaks new ground in examining prescribing patterns for dementia patients and highlights areas that GPs and other practices who want to deliver the best possible care need to focus on. It is encouraging that prescribing of antipsychotic drugs is falling.

"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."

According to the HSCIC website, participating practices will be able to access their own results from mid-August.

MedWire (www.medwire-news.md) is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Caroline Price