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Neuropsychiatric Symptoms (NPS) are ubiquitous in dementia and are often treated pharmacologically. The objectives of this study were to describe the use of psychotropic, anti-cholinergic, and deliriogenic medications and to identify the prevalence of polypharmacy and psychotropic polypharmacy, among older hospitalized patients in Ireland, with and without dementia.
All older patients (≥ 70 years old) that had elective or emergency admissions to six Irish study hospitals were eligible for inclusion in a longitudinal observational study. Of 676 eligible patients, 598 patients were recruited and diagnosed as having dementia, or not, by medical experts. These 598 patients were assessed for delirium, medication use, co-morbidity, functional ability, and nutritional status. We conducted a retrospective cross-sectional analysis of medication data on admission for 583/598 patients with complete medication data, and controlled for age, sex, and co-morbidity.
Of 149 patients diagnosed with dementia, only 53 had a previous diagnosis. At hospital admission, 458/583 patients experienced polypharmacy (≥ 5 medications). People with dementia (PwD) were significantly more likely to be prescribed at least one psychotropic medication than patients without dementia (99/147 vs. 182/436; p < 0.001). PwD were also more likely to experience psychotropic polypharmacy (≥ two psychotropics) than those without dementia (54/147 vs. 61/436; p < 0.001). There were no significant differences in the prescribing patterns of anti-cholinergics (23/147 vs. 42/436; p = 0.18) or deliriogenics (79/147 vs. 235/436; p = 0.62).
Polypharmacy and psychotropic drug use is highly prevalent in older Irish hospitalized patients, especially in PwD. Hospital admission presents an ideal time for medication reviews in PwD.
Delirium is a common neuropsychiatric syndrome that includes clinical subtypes identified by the Delirium Motor Subtyping Scale (DMSS). We explored the concordance between the DMSS and an abbreviated 4-item version in elderly medical inpatients.
Elderly general medical admissions (n = 145) were assessed for delirium using the Revised Delirium Rating scale (DRS-R98). Clinical subtype was assessed with the DMSS (which includes the four items included in the DMSS-4). Motor subtypes were generated for all patient assessments using both versions of the scale. The concordance of the original and abbreviated DMSS was examined.
The agreement between the DMSS and DMSS-4 was high, both at initial and subsequent assessments (κ range 0.75–0.91). Intraclass Correlation Coefficient (ICC) for all three raters for the DMSS was high (0.70) and for DMSS-4 was moderate (0.59). Analysis of the agreement between raters for individual DMSS items found higher concordance in respect of hypoactive features compared to hyperactive.
The DMSS-4 allows for rapid assessment of clinical subtype in delirium and has high concordance with the longer and well-validated DMSS, including over longitudinal assessment. There is good inter-rater reliability between medical and nursing staff. More consistent clinical subtyping can facilitate better delirium management and more focused research effort.
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