Launch: National Standard on Psychotropic Medicines

The Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care has introduced a national standard aimed at improving the treatment of individuals with cognitive disabilities or impairments.

The Psychotropic Medicines in Cognitive Disability or Impairment Clinical Care Standard delineates specific measures to ensure the responsible and suitable utilisation of psychotropic medications, representing a substantial advancement toward safer and more effective treatment practices.

Over the past 30 years, there’s been a 60% increase in the number of psychotropic medicines dispensed in Australia as a whole. That includes anti-psychotics, anti-depressants and sedative-hypnotics.

Despite a recent decline in antipsychotic prescriptions among older Australians, challenges persist, particularly concerning adverse effects such as cognitive decline, falls, and increased mortality risk associated with psychotropic medicine use.

“When prescribing these medicines, it’s essential to have clear objectives and ways to measure their impact, including by collaborating with behaviour support practitioners to ensure that your prescribing has the intended response.”

Professor Julian Trollor, Director of the National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability, University of New South Wales

The standard addresses the significance of non-medication interventions as primary approaches for managing behavioural concerns, with psychotropic medications to be considered only as a last resort or when there’s a high risk of harm. A webinar was held earlier today to launch the new standards. (below)

Today’s webinar featured:

  • Hosted by Tegan Taylor, ABC journalist and broadcaster
  • Panellists included: Conjoint Associate Professor Carolyn Hullick – Chief Medical Officer, Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care.
  • Affiliate Associate Professor Juanita Breen – University of Tasmania.
  • Professor Eddy Strivens AM PSM – Geriatrician and Clinical Director, Cairns and Hinterland Hospital and Health Service.
  • Professor Julian Trollor – Director, National Centre of Excellence in Intellectual Disability Health, UNSW, Sydney

The standard emphasises individualised care planning in consultation with family and relevant stakeholders. Experts stress the need for clear treatment objectives, collaboration with behaviour support practitioners, regular medication reviews, and effective communication across care settings to ensure consistent and safe treatment practices.

This standard applies across healthcare services for individuals of all ages with cognitive disabilities or impairments and seeks to promote coordinated efforts among healthcare providers for improved patient outcomes.

The Psychotropic Medicines in Cognitive Disability or Impairment Clinical Care Standards and resources are available at


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