MedsAware 2024 targets inappropriate psychotropic use in aged and disability care

MedsAware 2024: Deprescribing Action Week aims to raise awareness about discontinuing unnecessary medications, particularly in aged and disability care. Led by the Society of Hospital Pharmacists of Australia (SHPA), with support from various medical organisations, the campaign stresses the importance of questioning the necessity of medications that may cause more harm than good.

This year’s focus is on addressing the inappropriate use of psychotropic medicines, often prescribed to manage challenging behaviours in older adults and people with disabilities.

‘And we know that every year, 250,000 Australians are admitted to hospital due to medication-related issues, many of which are preventable.

SHPA President Tom Simpson

Polypharmacy and inappropriate medicine use pose significant barriers to safe healthcare in these settings. Studies indicate that psychotropic medications are frequently prescribed without considering non-pharmacological interventions, leading to adverse effects. Deprescribing, the process of reducing or discontinuing medications, can mitigate these risks and improve outcomes for individuals.

SHPA President Tom Simpson says ‘polypharmacy’ and ‘inappropriate medicine use’ is a barrier to ensuring the safe and quality use of medicines in aged care and disability settings.

‘Several studies have demonstrated that challenging behaviours, particularly those seen in patients with dementia, are too often addressed by starting psychotropic medicines without first attempting to use evidence-based non-pharmacological interventions’, Mr Simpson added

The campaign advocates for collaborative medication reviews involving patients, pharmacists, doctors, and nurses to optimise treatment and minimize adverse effects.

By prioritising patient-centred care and shared decision-making, MedsAware seeks to ensure that older Australians receive appropriate medications aligned with their goals of care, ultimately enhancing their quality of life and reducing preventable hospital admissions.


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