The Risks and Benefits of Switching Antipsychotics: A Case Study Approach

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PURPOSEProgression of metabolic illness in a patient with schizophrenia who was stabilized on an atypical antipsychotic is described using a case study framework. Risks and benefits of staying on current treatment versus switching to another agent and switching strategies are described.CONCLUSIONSSwitching an antipsychotic with more favorable side effects may improve metabolic parameters if other weight loss strategies have failed. Switching or stopping medications too quickly may exacerbate psychiatric symptoms. There is little evidence to support which is the best switching strategy.PRACTICE IMPLICATIONSThe psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner carries a significant responsibility of discussing risks and benefits of switching and closely monitoring the patient during a switch of medications. Ensuring that the patient decides and agrees upon the treatment plan will improve the overall outcome.

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