Indexed on: 02 Dec '20Published on: 16 Sep '19Published in: Age and ageing
BackgroundBenzodiazepine prescription is common among the Irish patient cohort. 23% of medical card holders have been prescribed a benzodiazepine or Z-drug, with a third of these being for a period longer than three months. This is despite these drugs being associated with addiction, falls, cognitive and psychomotor impairment, mood disorder, sleep automatism and drug interactions. We performed an audit looking at the repeat prescriptions of patients attending a geriatric day hospital.MethodsThe repeat prescriptions of all patients currently enrolled at a day hospital were analysed for benzodiazepines or Z-drugs. Medical records were then analysed to look for indication and whether these patients were currently attending psychiatric services. Subsequent to this, notices were placed in the patient consult room in direct line of sight of the registrar reminding them to consider weaning these drugs and detailing the negative side effects and guidelines for weaning from the Canadian National Pain Centre.Results59 patients were enrolled at the day hospital when the audit was performed. 11 (19%) had either a benzodiazepine or Z-drug as part of their repeat prescription (benzodiazepine-5, Z-drug-5, both-1). The most common benzodiazepines prescribed were diazepam and clonazepam (2 patients on each). Of those prescribed a benzodiazepine, none were currently being weaned. Of those on benzodiazepines, 4 of 6 had a documented psychiatric diagnosis, and 1 of 6 had documented that they were currently attending psychiatric services. A re-audit three months later showed no change in those prescribed benzodiazepines (5/59), and a non-significant increase in those on Z-drugs (9/59, p=0.26).ConclusionThis audit showed a significant number of patients attending our day hospital are being prescribed long term benzodiazepines or Z-drugs, and highlights that this setting is an opportune time and place to establish a supported program to wean people off these medications.