Improving treatment of metabolic side effects from atypical antipsychotics

Thumbnail Image



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Nursing


Atypical antipsychotics are commonly used to treat a variety of mental health disorders in children and adolescents. Prescribing atypical antipsychotics is not without risk as the development of metabolic side effects can lead to reduced life expectancy from chronic metabolic diseases. The metabolic side effects from atypical antipsychotics are considered treatable medical conditions requiring appropriate screening and intervention. Despite recommendations, psychiatric providers do not consistently screen and treat metabolic abnormalities, creating a gap in care for these individuals. This quality improvement project took place on an adolescent inpatient residential unit. This project focused on incorporating recommendations from clinical practice guidelines by focusing on improving rates of metabolic screening and utilization of treatment interventions when metabolic abnormalities are identified to reduce the burden of metabolic side effects for patients. The Plan-Do-Study-Act framework was used to guide this quality improvement project over six weeks with four separate cycles varying in duration from one to two weeks each. A metabolic screening bundle for psychiatric provider notes was created within the electronic health record to improve ease of interpreting metabolic screening values and identifying need for further intervention. At the end of the quality improvement project, rates of metabolic screening remained unchanged. The rate of patients receiving treatment interventions increased and multiple patients received more than one treatment intervention. Treatment modalities studied included metformin, individual physical activity, and nutritionist consult. This quality improvement project sought to decrease patients experiencing metabolic abnormalities after treatment with atypical antipsychotic medication, but effectiveness was unable to be measured due to the short time frame. Metabolic screening is a necessary part of atypical antipsychotic treatment that needs to be completed upon initiation of medication and at future appointments. Once metabolic screening is completed, further education on potential treatment interventions for metabolic abnormalities needs to be discussed with the patient and other professionals involved in their care to improve patient outcomes.




Copyright (c) 2002-2022, LYRASIS. All rights reserved.