The Good Prescribing Practice for Clinicians guidelines were published in 2002 in Ireland to guide General Practitioners about prescribing benzodiazepines. There has been no research to-date to measure compliance by General Practitioners. Inappropriate prescribing to minors may result in increased use or misuse of benzodiazepines.
The purpose of this study was to evaluate the prescribing of benzodiazepines to minors in Ireland against the Good Prescribing Practice for Clinicians guidelines.
Data for medicines dispensed between January 2009 and December 2012 from the Health Intelligence Ireland database were accessed and analysed. This database contains information about government-subsidised community-pharmacy-dispensed medicines.
Benzodiazepine prescribing to minors increased by 10.2% between 2009 and 2012. Almost 15% of patients (n = 2193) were prescribed benzodiazepines for greater than four weeks; which contravenes the guidelines. Approximately half (51.4%) of prescribers who contravened this guideline, prescribed all their benzodiazepines in quantities of greater than one week, against the recommendations of the guidelines.
The consequences of prescribing against National Guidelines can result in patients who become long-term benzodiazepine users and thus place an increased burden upon the healthcare system. The reasons for non-compliance by GPs should be investigated to find solutions.