Psychiatric outpatients clinic improves prescribing of medication in people with learning disabilities

medicine in blisterpack

Many studies have looked at the difficulties associated with medication management in people with learning disabilities. This study set out to looked at an approach to medication management and treatment in an outpatient psychiatry clinic for 198 community-residing children and adults with learning disability who were referred to the clinic and subsequently discharged over an eight year period to 2008.

The authors used a descriptive design gathering data from a retrospective chart audit to explain medication management from referral to discharge.

They found that psychiatric care in the clinic led to a simplification of medication regimens. Where people had been taking prescribed psychiatric medications at the point of referral, polypharmacy, the use of multiple medications were reduced by the point of discharge. They were able to check whether the modifications in medications prescribed reflected the current expert consensus guidelines and this was found to be the case.

The authors conclude that the specialised psychiatric outpatient services they describe in the study, is one approach that can lead to improvements in the quality of mental health care for people with learning disabilities.

Psychiatric services for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities: medication management, Russell A et al., in Journal of Mental Health Research in Intellectual Disabilities, 4, 4, 265-289

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John Northfield

After qualifying as a social worker, John worked in community learning disability teams before getting involved in a number of long-stay hospital closure programmes, working to develop individual plans for people moving into their own homes. He worked for BILD, helping to develop the Quality Network and was editorial lead for the NHS electronic library learning disabilities specialist collection. This led him to found the Learning Disabilities Elf site with Andre Tomlin as a way of making the evidence accessible to practitioners in health and social care. Most recently he has worked as part of Mencap's national quality team and also been involved in a number of national website developments, including the General Medical Council's learning disabilities site.

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