Apr 21, 2014
By Jane Brown
It sheds new light on the widespread use of powerful prescription drugs among residents of Ontario’s nursing homes. A new provincial Health Ministry report says thousands of seniors in provincial nursing homes are on a powerful mix of anti-psychotics and sedatives. The report was commissioned by the ministry and co-authored by a leading doctor and scientist. Doctor David Juurlink says, “these drugs are prescribed so commonly because they are perceived to be benign.” But he says, “that’s not true and in fact, they are inherently dangerous.”
The report reveals that 45 percent of all Ontario nursing home residents between the ages of 65 and 79 are on an anti-psychotic drug. The report also exposes the problem of high prescription rates of sedatives such as diazepam and lorazepam: 30 percent of residents in the same age group are on the drugs. Juurlink says sedation comes at a price. “Falls, bedsores, blood clots and direct adverse reactions to the drugs can sometimes be fatal.”
Health Minister Deb Matthews says her ministry asked for the report because appropriate prescribing in long term care homes is a priority. She told the New AM 740’s Goldhawk Fights Back last week, the government is working on an education strategy that can be rolled out across the province. Listen to Deb Matthew’s full interview on Goldhawk here.