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Profiling psychotropic discharge medication from a children’s psychiatric ward


Background Community prescribing of medication to treat psychiatric illness in children is increasing. However, details about medication prescribed at discharge from psychiatric inpatient services for children are scarce. Objectives Characterise the nature of psychotropic medication prescribed on discharge from a children’s psychiatric ward over a 15-year period. Method Retrospective analysis of discharge summary letters of all discharges occurring between Jan 1997 to Dec 2012. Results 234 children (152 males and 82 females) were discharged with 117 (50 %) prescribed psychotropic medication at discharge. 133 medicines were prescribed (stimulants n = 49, antipsychotics n = 31, antidepressants n = 22, mood stabilisers n = 1, other ADHD medication n = 11, melatonin n = 10, benzodiazepines n = 7, other n = 2). Risperidone was the most popular antipsychotic at a mean daily dose of 1 mg (range 0.25–4 mg). Fifty per cent were given an unlicensed medicine or a licensed drug was used in an unlicensed manner, of which risperidone was the most common (n = 14). Sleep disturbance and tics were most often treated using unlicensed/off label medication (n = 10). Conclusion Psychotropic medication is routinely used in inpatient children’s services, with the majority of use confined to stimulants and atypical antipsychotics. Much of the antipsychotic use is for unlicensed indications or at unlicensed doses.

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The author is grateful to G. Bailey and H. Allen for their help with data input and analysis.


No external funding was provided for this study.

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Correspondence to Gazala Akram.

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Akram, G. Profiling psychotropic discharge medication from a children’s psychiatric ward. Int J Clin Pharm 37, 753–757 (2015).

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  • Antipsychotics
  • Child psychiatry
  • Psychotropic medication
  • Unlicensed indications
  • United Kingdom