A recent study found that improper drug treatment is given to nearly 40 percent of patients that suffer from their first episode of schizophrenia. The researchers noted that this improper drug treatment can lead to patient’s long-term outcome, since schizophrenia is a chronic treatment, as well as problems that cause patients to stop taking their medication.
For the study, researchers observed 404 people who suffered a first episode of schizophrenia at community treatment centers in 21 states. Of those patients, 159 received drug treatment that was inconsistent with recommendations for first-episode patients.
“Academic research has found that optimal medication selection and dosing for first-episode patients differs from that for patients with longer illness durations. The challenge to the field is to get this specialized knowledge to busy clinicians who are treating patients,” study author Dr. Delbert Robinson, a psychiatrist at the Zucker Hillside Hospital in Glen Oaks, N.Y., said in a journal news release.
Researchers noted common mistakes including:
- Prescribing more than one antipsychotic drug.
- A higher-than-recommended dose of an antipsychotic.
- The use of psychotropic medication other than an antipsychotic.
- Prescribing an antidepressant without justification.
“Our finding that treatment differed based upon patients’ insurance status suggests that in order to improve first-episode care we may also need to address treatment system issues,” Robinson said.