Unsafe antipsychotics given to elderly dementia patients in some care homes
Due to staff shortage in the health care sector, elderly dementia patients receive unsafe antipsychotic medications, specialists told Pointer.
The specialists said there are too few nurses to care for elderly dementia patients, leading to nursing homes giving their residents unsafe medications to reduce their dementia symptoms. "Our hands are tied," professor of pharmacotherapy Rob van Marum told Pointer. "The best would be to give someone with dementia lots of personal care, but that's not possible 24 hours a day. Out of hopelessness, nursing homes prescribe the medication," Van Marum said.
Roughly half of all nursing home residents receive either antipsychotic medications or anti-depressive. "Due to the high workload, staff asks for medication if there is a problem with a resident," chair of the sector union for healthcare professional V&VN Bianca Buurman said.
Sedative medication such as quetiapine is given to schizophrenic patients. One of the side effects of quetiapine is that it could lead to a higher chance of death. For other medications, more research still needs to be conducted on their consequences.
"You need to inform the people honestly about the pros and cons of antipsychotic medication. That doesn't happen all the time. After a few weeks, the family has to evaluate the consequences of the medication and decide if they want to continue," Van Marum said.
Buurman said it is unlikely that the use of antipsychotic medication in nursing homes will stop in the coming years. The number of dementia patients is expected to double in the coming 20 years to 330,000.