A 1-day census provided an opportunity to examine the variation between 44 mental health services in the frequency of prescribing high doses and polypharmacy of antipsychotic drugs to in-patients on acute psychiatric wards.
The proportion of patients prescribed a high dose ranged 0–50% and simultaneous use of more than one antipsychotic drug ranged 12–71%. A number of case-mix variables explained 26% and 40%, respectively, of the variance between services on these two indicators of prescribing practice.
Services with high rates of prescription of high dose or polypharmacy might consider a review of clinical practice and of service-level factors that might affect prescribing.
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