Chemical cosh drugs given to dementia patients, nurses admit
By Jenny Hope
Dangerous drugs are being routinely prescribed to dementia victims on general hospital wards, according to alarming figures.
More than three-quarters of nurses admit such patients are being given anti-psychotic drugs - often known as the ‘chemical cosh’ - that double the risk of death, triple the risk of stroke and accelerate decline.
The research, revealed by the Alzheimer’s Society, is the first time that evidence from nurses has highlighted the widespread prescription of drugs to people with dementia in hospital.
One in four nurses told the charity anti-psychotic drugs are being wrongly used to sedate elderly patients.
Last year MPs sounded alarm bells about the inappropriate use of such drugs for up to 100,000 people with dementia in care homes after hearing evidence that they can trigger premature death.
Campaigners claim Alzheimer’s patients with behaviour problems are being ‘killed’ to make life easier for staff.
The Alzheimer’s Society and ten leading bodies are calling for the immediate publication of a long-awaited Government review into the use of anti-psychotics.
In April health minister Phil Hope said the review would be published in May, but it has still not appeared.
Neil Hunt, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘The massive over-prescription of anti-psychotics to people with dementia is an abuse of human rights, causing serious side effects and increasing risk of death.
‘These powerful drugs should only be used in a small number of cases. The Government must take action to ensure that these drugs are only ever used as a last resort.’
Rebecca Wood, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Research Trust, said: ‘While the Department of Health prevaricates, thousands of people are being put at risk through the misuse of anti-psychotics. After so many delays, the Government must take swift and decisive action.
‘By breaking its promise to take prompt action on the misuse of anti-psychotic drugs, the Government is failing the most vulnerable people in our society.’
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