Benzodiazepine and z-hypnotic prescribing from acute psychiatric inpatient discharge to long-term care in the community.

Research paper by Chris F CF Johnson, Ola Ali OA Nassr, Catherine C Harpur, David D Kenicer, Alex A Thom, Gazala G Akram

Indexed on: 13 Nov '18Published on: 13 Nov '18Published in: Pharmacy practice


Benzodiazepine and z-hypnotic prescribing has slowly decreased over the past 20 years, however long-term chronic prescribing still occurs and is at odds with prescribing guidance. To identify the pattern of benzodiazepine and z-hypnotic prescribing in psychiatric inpatients at discharge and 12 months post-discharge. Retrospective observational longitudinal cohort study of patients admitted to two adult psychiatric wards between June and November 2012 (inclusive) who were discharged with a prescription for a benzodiazepine or z-hypnotic drug. Routinely collected prescription data available from NHS Scotland Prescribing Information System was used to identify and follow community prescribing of benzodiazepine and z-hypnotics for a 12 month period post-discharge. Data were entered in Excel and further analysed using SPSS 23. Ethical approval was not required for this service evaluation however Caldicott Guardian approval was sought and granted. Eighty patients were admitted during the study period however only those patients with a single admission were included for analysis (n=74). Thirty per cent (22/74) of patients were prescribed a benzodiazepine or z-hypnotics at discharge; 14 of whom received 'long-term' benzodiazepine and z-hypnotics i.e. continued use over the 12 month period. Seven patients received a combination of anxiolytics and hypnotics (e.g., diazepam plus temazepam or zopiclone). Long-term use was associated with a non-significant increase in median benzodiazepine or z-hypnotic dose, expressed as diazepam equivalents. One in three patients were prescribed a benzodiazepine or z-hypnotics at discharge with 1 in 5 receiving continuous long-term treatment (prescriptions) for 12 months post-discharge. As chronic long-term B-Z prescribing and use still remains an issue, future strategies using routine patient-level prescribing data may support prescribers to review and minimise inappropriate long-term prescribing.