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Switching between antidepressants is complex due to potential adverse outcomes such as serotonin syndrome and antidepressant discontinuation syndrome, yet switching is often required due to non-response to initial treatment. This study aimed to examine the patterns and extent of antidepressant switching in a cohort of older adults in long-term residential care.
A cohort study of medication supply data from 6011 aged care residents in 60 long-term care facilities was conducted. Incident antidepressant users were followed for 12 months and their patterns of antidepressant use determined. The type of switching from and to different antidepressant classes was determined according to National and International recommendations for antidepressant switching.
In total, 11% (n = 44) of the residents were initiated on an antidepressant medication (n = 402) switched to a different antidepressant agent within 12 months. Residents commenced on a SNRI or TCA were most likely to switch antidepressants (17% in each group). Almost half of the switches (n = 21, 48% of all switches) were not implemented according to guideline recommendations. Direct switch and taper followed by wash out and switch, accounted for all of the inappropriate switching (29% and 71%, respectfully), with half occurring to mirtazapine (N = 7) or from mirtazapine (N = 3).
Over one in 10 long-term aged care residents who commence an antidepressant will switch to a different antidepressant within 12 months. Current antidepressant switching practices in long-term residential aged care may be increasing the risk of harm associated with antidepressant switching, with around half of all switches not following current guideline recommendations.
Antipsychotic agents have limited efficacy for Behavioral and Psychological Symptoms of Dementia (BPSD) and there are concerns about their safety. Despite this, they are frequently used for the management of BPSD. This study aimed to assess the use of antipsychotics among people on anti-dementia medicines in Australian residential aged care facilities.
Data were obtained from an individual patient unit dose packaging database covering 40 residential aged care facilities in New South Wales, Australia. Residents supplied an anti-dementia medicine between July 2008 and June 2013 were included. Prevalence of concurrent antipsychotic use was established. Incident antipsychotic users between January 2009 and December 2011 were identified. We examined initial antipsychotic dose, maximum titrated doses, type and duration of antipsychotic use, and compared use with Australian guidelines.
There were 291 residents treated with anti-dementia medicines, 129 (44%) of whom received antipsychotics concomitantly with an anti-dementia medicine. Among the 59 incident antipsychotic users, risperidone (73%) was the most commonly used antipsychotic agent. Amongst the risperidone initiators, 43% of patients had initial doses greater than 0.5 mg/day and 6% of patients exceeded 2.0 mg/day for their maximum dose. 53% of concomitant users received daily treatment for greater than six months.
Our study using records of individual patient unit dose supply, which represents the intended medication consumption schedule, shows high rates of concurrent use of antipsychotics and anti-dementia medicines and long durations of use. The use of antipsychotics in patients with dementia needs to be carefully monitored to improve patient outcomes.
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