We examined the prescribing practices concerning benzodiazepine and hypnotic medications at a university teaching hospital. Retrospective data from 74 consecutively admitted in-patients were analysed.
Benzodiazepines were prescribed to 51% of individuals on a routine basis and to 66% of individuals on an ‘as required’ basis. An indication was documented for 70% of individuals prescribed benzodiazepines routinely and for 29% of patients prescribed benzodiazepines ‘as required’. Hypnotic agents were administered to 24% of patients on a routine basis and 23% of individuals on an ‘as required’ basis. An indication was documented for 39% of patients prescribed hypnotic agents routinely and 12% of patients prescribed hypnotics ‘as required’.
Benzodiazepine and hypnotic agents are frequently prescribed without any clear reason provided in the patients' medical notes or prescription card.