BackgroundHospitalizations among people with dementia (PWD) may precipitate behavioral changes, leading to the psychotropic medication use despite adverse outcomes and limited efficacy. We sought to determine the incidence of new psychotropic medication use among community-dwelling PWD after hospital discharge and, among new users, the proportion with prolonged use.
MethodsThis was a retrospective cohort study using a 20% random sample of Medicare claims in 2017, including hospitalized PWD with traditional and Part D Medicare who were 68 years or older. The primary outcome was incident prescribing at discharge of psychotropics including antipsychotics, sedative-hypnotics, antiepileptics, and antidepressants. This was defined as new prescription fills (i.e., from classes not used in 180 days preadmission) within 7 days of hospital or skilled nursing facility discharge. Prolonged use was defined as the proportion of new users who continued to fill newly prescribed medications beyond 90 days of discharge.
ResultsThe cohort included 117,022 hospitalized PWD with a mean age of 81 years; 63% were female. Preadmission, 63% were using at least 1 psychotropic medication; 10% were using medications from ≥3 psychotropic classes. These included antidepressants (44% preadmission), antiepileptics (29%), sedative-hypnotics (21%), and antipsychotics (11%). The proportion of PWD discharged from the hospital with new psychotropics ranged from 1.9% (antipsychotics) to 2.9% (antiepileptics); 6.6% had at least one new class started. Among new users, prolonged use ranged from 36% (sedative-hypnotics) to 63% (antidepressants); across drug classes, prolonged use occurred in 51%. Predictors of newly initiated psychotropics included length of stay (≥median vs. ConclusionsHospitalized PWD have a high prevalence of preadmission psychotropic medication use; against this baseline, discharge from the hospital with new psychotropics is relatively uncommon. Nevertheless, prolonged use of newly initiated psychotropics occurs in a substantial proportion of this population.