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By Debbie le Quesne

Drugs, the blame game and why it just isn’t fair

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I always expect the ‘red tops’ Press to present stories in their own inimitable way.

We all are used to sensational headlines whenever the care sector comes on to their radar, but sometimes it’s not just the popular paper that make my blood boil.

I found myself feeling utterly shocked on reading a Telegraph report on the misuse of anti-psychotic drugs where it boldly stated that “care home staff too often used them as a shortcut for managing residents, when more humanity was needed.”

And worse, I thought I was about to read something totally different under the headline “Deadly drugs still given to the elderly”.

The throw-away “managing residents” line was in a worthy piece about statistics published last week on dementia and prescribed drugs.

In the article, The Telegraph stated that “elderly patients in some parts of England are six times more likely to be prescribed potentially deadly drugs than in other areas.”

It went on: “Antipsychotic drugs, designed to treat conditions such as schizophrenia, can be prescribed for patients with dementia to help manage psychological and behavioural symptoms including aggression, shouting and sleep disturbance.

“In 2009 a report found that four in five patients with dementia — 144,000 out of 180,000 — were being given them inappropriately, often to keep them quiet.”

What really upset me – other than the terribly misleading headline – was that Paul Burstow, the care services minister, had said: “More than halving the number of people with dementia receiving anti­psychotics marks a huge change in the right direction.” But the care sector still managed to take a hit. It’s still our fault, it appears, that too many elderly get too many drugs.

Do we really believe that carers hand out these potentially lethal drugs like Smarties? Of course they don’t.

They are prescription drugs and they are administered under the direction of a doctor.

Perhaps it’s the doctors who should be taking the flack, not the embattled carers, who generally do an exceptional job and get little thanks for it.

The figures from the Health and Social Care Information Service showed that the proportion of dementia patients across England being given the drugs has more than halved since 2006, down from 17 to 6.8 per cent.

How good is that!

The statistics reveal that 13 per cent of dementia patients in the North West are being given anti­psychotic drugs, while in London only two per cent of patients receive them. In Yorkshire the prescription rate was nine per cent but the Humber region, showed a figure of only only 2.5 per cent.

Add into the mix last year’s Department of Health warning that these drugs were leading to 1,800 needless deaths a year and we have a sensational tale that somehow leaves me feeling it’s the fault of my care sector workers.

It simply isn’t true.

Maybe I’m a little over sensitive, but I really don’t think so.

I was heartened by the quotes in the story from Jeremy Hughes, the chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, who said of the countrywide reduction: “This momentous achievement is not just about statistics, it is about the lives of tens of thousands of people with dementia.

“Other interventions can be used to reduce distress and agitation among people with dementia,” he added.

Mr Burstow said a risk assessment tool to help doctors use the drugs safely and appropriately was being developed.

He most definitely recognised it was the doctors who needed support here.

Please can we spare a thought for our carers and care providers. They really are tired of taking the blame for every single thing that’s just not part of a perfect world.

Carers – the prescribing culprits of deadly drugs. Never. Besides, aren’t all prescription drugs, by definition, potentially harmful? Calming chamomile tea beckons . . .

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Written by debbielq

July 24, 2012 at 6:31 am

Posted in Uncategorized

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