The Lethbridge Herald
Thursday A, Thursday, November 30, 2006, p.
Medication key to keeping mentally ill out of
More than one-third of patients discharged from
hospital re-admitted within
a year: report
Lethbridge Herald with CP files
A former Lethbridge man
who's lived with schizophrenia all his adult life
said a report released
Wednesday underscores the importance of finding ways
to get schizophrenics to
take their medication.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information
report says more than a third
of patients discharged from hospital with a
diagnosis of mental illness wind
up returning to hospital within a
Nawaf Madi, the CIHI's mental health program leader, says
often linked to a disruption in outpatient treatment and may
instability or a recurrence of severe symptoms.
just means non-compliance with medication," said Austin Mardon,
Antarctic explorer and longtime volunteer with the Schizophrenia
Mardon, who has published numerous scholarly works, was awarded
Centennial Award last year for his substantial scientific
the province. Formerly of Lethbridge, he now lives in
He said people stop taking their drugs for many reasons,
unpleasant side-effects and the belief they are well and
don't need their
meds any more.
"If there could be a successful
campaign to get people on medication they
can afford, we could see a drastic
reduction in hospitalizations," Mardon
said. "But 40 per cent of people who
take medications don't take them
The report, Hospital
Mental Health Services in Canada 2003-2004, found 30
per cent of all general
hospital stays during that time involved a patient
with mental illness. The
average length of stay was just over 16 days for a
patient with a primary
diagnosis of mental illness, more than double that
for patients with a
This finding is a concern for health planners,
Madi says, partly because
in-patient hospital care is so expensive.
the past 10 years, there's been a decline in the number of patients
hospital mental health services as well as their average length of
That's likely because patients who are drug compliant are benefiting
new generations of medication, especially injectables, that offer fewer
effects and more even control of symptoms.
Mardon pointed to a
successful New York program for homeless schizophrenic
can't get their cheques until they have their injections and that's
very well there," he said.
There, the state pays for the medication,
which costs C$795 for two
injections, or a month's worth. In Alberta, some
medications are covered but
the new form of Risperdal is not. Mardon, who
took part in a trial, has been
granted compassionate coverage so he can
continue to use it.
"Otherwise, that's as much as I live on in a month,"
he said. "The
medication is very toxic, there's no doubt about that. It can
side effects, impotence, massive weight gain, drooling even. But
do you have? The first contact a schizophrenic has with the
usually not with health care, it's with the police."
the entire report, visit www.cihi.ca.
Diseases, therapy and prevention
Length: Medium, 422 words
Austin Mardon, CM
Post Office Box 1223, Main Post Office,
Edmonton, Alberta, CANADA,
Web site: www.austinmardon.org