The administration of psychotropic PRN medication in Scottish psychiatric intensive care units

Gazala Akram, Anton Slevin, Paul Davies

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Information concerning the administration of psychotropic PRN medication in Scottish PICUs is scarce. The medical notes and prescription charts of all patients (n = 75) admitted during the study period were consulted to determine the frequency and nature of PRN practice. 65% of patients (n = 49) were administered up to 11 drugs comprising of antipsychotics (n = 8), benzodiazepines (n = 2) and zopiclone. The most frequently administered PRN medicines were lorazepam, haloperidol and zuclopenthixol. The mean dose administered for oral and intramuscular (IM) forms of both lorazepam and haloperidol were very similar. The mean number of PRN administrations per patient per day was 0.4. 40% of psychotropic PRN administrations were initiated by the nurse with the majority of doses administered at bedtime. Ten patients received an IM injection. Four patients were restrained during these administrations. Documentation pertaining to the rationale for IM administrations and of pre and post rapid tranquillisation physical health monitoring was lacking. This study highlights variation in practice between units, inadequate monitoring and documentation, a possible lack of understanding by prescribers of the differences in bioavailability between oral and injectable forms of medication and relatively limited use of newer drugs.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Psychiatric Intensive Care
Early online date25 Feb 2014
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • scottish
  • psychiatric
  • administration
  • psychotropic PRN medication
  • psychiatric intensive care units


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