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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Reckless over-prescribing of anti-psychotic drugs (so-called chemical cosh) to care home residents continues.

The Telegraph again carries a report on the reckless overprescribing of anti-psychotic drugs (so-called chemical cosh) to care home residents.

That many of the residents suffer from dementia is no excuse for dosing them with these harmful drugs, because anti-psychotics are rarely appropriate for dementia. The article says that, "Only around 36,000 of the 180,000 people on the drugs in the UK derive any benefit from them," and that "Over-prescribing of the drugs is linked to an extra 1,800 deaths a year among elderly people."

The matter was being reported and discussed on the radio today and I heard a medic blaming the care homes for this scandalous practice, and a care home spokesperson blaming the GPs. - Well there's a great deal of blame to share out! - While it's clearly the prescribers who are mainly to blame, there is equally clearly no proper regulation of this dangerous prescribing. - and here surely blame lies with the government for giving doctors a pretty free hand (misnamed 'clinical judgment!) in their reckless prescribing habits. Blame also lies with the Department of Health and the NHS. And a whole heap of blame lies with the drug companies, who are the main beneficiaries of this wicked, cruel perversion of health care.

It isn't as if they don't know about the harm done. - To quote further from the article:

"Paul Burstow, a Liberal Democrat MP who has led a 10-year campaign highlighting the risks of over and inappropriate prescribing, said: "This review comes much too late for thousands of elderly people whose lives have been cut short by the reckless prescribing of anti-psychotic drugs.

"The evidence that anti-psychotic drugs do more harm than good has been mounting for years. There is next to no benefit for the older person and prolonged prescribing can lead to premature death.

"The Government has sat on this review for long enough. What is needed now is leadership and a relentless drive to end abusive prescribing.""

It is my considered opinion that many of these avoidable deaths should be regarded as manslaughter, and that the harm done to health not resulting in death should be regarded as actual or as grievous bodily harm, i.e. crimes have been committed.

Sort out the blame. Get the offenders tried in court. Some of them surely would warrant custodial sentences. Most should never be allowed near a prescription pad or a patient again.

A few doctors and drug company executives in prison would ensure a rapid reduction in this terrible cruelty inflicted on vulnerable people by the medical profession who often claim that they 'first do no harm'.