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Warning on neuroleptic use in nursing homes

GPs are overprescribing neuroleptic drugs to nursing home patients and are not adhering to the national service framework for older people, a study reveals.

Researchers at Weston Gen- eral Hospital in Weston-Super-Mare, Avon, found 55 per cent of the 974 nursing home residents in the study received regular psychotropic drugs.

More than half, 58 per cent, were prescribed four or more medications but only 35 per cent of these received regular medical reviews. Under the framework over-75s should have their medicines reviewed at least annually. 'Many residents are at risk from polypharmacy and excessive use of psychotropic medications,' researchers told delegates at the British Geriatric Society's spring meeting in Aberdeen earlier this month.

Researcher Dr Sarah Camp- bell, an SHO at the hospital, blamed poor staffing levels and time pressure for inappropriate prescriptions.

She added: 'There may be pressure to manage patients who require specialist nursing care in ordinary care homes and these drugs may be used to try to achieve this.'

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