April 1975

Psychotropic Drugs on General Medical and Surgical Wards of a Teaching Hospital

Author Affiliations

From the School of Medicine (Drs. Davidson and Raft and Mr. Lewis and Ms. Gebhardt) and the School of Pharmacy (Ms. Gebhardt), University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; and the Department of Psychiatry, John Umstead Hospital (Dr. Davidson).

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1975;32(4):507-511. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1975.01760220119012

We examined the prescribing habits for psychotropic drugs of internists, surgeons, and gynecologists on their inpatient wards in a teaching hospital. Data were gathered from patients' charts and pharmacy records. In a six-week period, 9% of all admissions received such a drug. The male:female ratio and black:white ratios were studied; the maximum incidence of receiving these medications was in the 50- to 60-year age group.

Minor tranquilizers were prescribed most frequently, followed, respectively, by major tranquilizers, barbiturates, and antidepressants. Less than half the available drugs were used, but drugs of different groups were often used interchangeably in an unsystematic fashion, and there was little evidence as to how effective a drug had been. It also seemed that depression was often overlooked or insufficiently treated.