Researchers declare Parkinson's patients given too many antipsychotics

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Canadian physicians are over-prescribing antipsychotics to Parkinson's disease patients in long-term care facilities, a new study finds.

More than a third of Parkinson's disease patients in long-term care are receiving antipsychotics, despite only 10% showing severe aggression or psychosis, according to research published in the Journal of Parkinson's Disease last week.

Researchers tracked long-term care residents in six Canadian provinces and one northern territory, as well as complex continuing care facilities in Manitoba and Ontario. While the study tracked Canadians, the use of antipsychotics for Parkinson's should raise red flags among American physicians. Nursing home residents with the disease who were younger, male and had less physician access were more likely to be prescribed an antipsychotic.

“Given the risks associated with this kind of medication, which includes worsening mobility, falls, cognitive impairment, infections and mortality, the prescription of antipsychotics without strong justification of benefit is concerning,” warned George Heckman, M.D., Schlegel Research Chairman in Geriatric Medicine and a professor in the Faculty of Applied Health Sciences at Waterloo.