Pharmacists Can Decrease the Hospitalization Rate of Dementia Patients

Dementia patients can benefit from the knowledge of a pharmacist in their healthcare team.

Currently, it is standard practice that most patients with dementia are only receiving direct care from physicians, including medication.

According to a dissertation written by Maria Gustafsson at Umeå University, adding a pharmacist to the healthcare team of a dementia patient can greatly improve their chances of recovery from drug-related readmissions.

In this study, researchers conducted a controlled trial with 460 participants aged 65 years or older. These participants all have dementia or some other cognitive impairment.

All patients were admitted to internal medicine and orthopedic wards in 2 designated hospitals between 2012 and 2015.

"When analysing all patient causes of the original admission, before the study intervention was performed, we found that as many as 41% of all admissions were related to medication events,” Gustafsson said in a press release. “The most common problem is adverse drug reaction, but also excessively high dosage and noncompliance is unfortunately common.”

In this study, clinical pharmacists were included in healthcare teams and reviewed the patient’s drug lists to ensure correctness and completeness. The pharmacists also made suggestions for improvements.

The trial found that the presence and intervention of the pharmacist reduced the risk of another drug-related hospitalization within 30 days of the original incidence. It was also found that there was no effect on patients with heart failure.

The pharmacist intervention also revealed that some patients were receiving antipsychotic and other psychotropic drugs for long periods of time, which does not match the treatment guidelines.

According to this study, some of these drugs are known to cause adverse effects in patients, yet are prescribed to dementia patients anyway.

Researchers state that more research is needed to fully understand why these drug treatment problems are so common among dementia patients.