Doctors and aged care staff must stop improper use of antipsychotic and psychotropic drugs

COTA Australia is demanding both doctors and aged care staff stop the widespread abuse of nursing home residents, who are among our most vulnerable citizens, after yet another study, released today revealed one in three aged care residents is chemically restrained through antipsychotic and psychotropic drugs.

The Macquarie University study examined 60 facilities with over 10,000 residents in NSW and ACT, finding that the liberal use of these dangerous drugs is aimed at controlling the behaviour of residents through sedation and impairing cognitive function.

In response to the findings, COTA renews its call for the Australian Medical Association, the RACGP and Australian College of Nursing to review professional practice in relation to long-raised issue of the overuse of antipsychotic drugs in aged care.

COTA Chief Executive Ian Yates said the findings were yet more evidence of widespread malpractice by both aged care providers and the doctors who prescribe this medication – often without individual consultation or family consent, or in some cases without following clinical requirements.

“This appalling use of chemical restraints is a form of elder abuse, and a breach both of aged care quality standards and medical professional ethics,” Mr Yates said.

“Aged care nurses and other staff unqualified to prescribe medication are requesting this medication be prescribed, and doctors who are trained to know better are doing so far too often. For both parties, their first, second and third priorities should be the welfare of the people in their care.

“The Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission and the Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care also have important roles to play in limiting the overuse of antipsychotic drugs in aged care.

“It’s time for the medical and aged care sectors to acknowledge the findings of this study and seek a solution that does not involve unnecessarily drugging our older Australians to make their jobs easier.

“Anyone who witnesses this behaviour should not hesitate to call the Aged Care Quality and Safety Commission on 1800 951 822.”

/Public Release. View in full here.