Pharmacists' interventions to reduce sedative/hypnotic use for insomnia in hospitalized patients

Aisha F. Badr, Sawsan Kurdi, Samah Alshehri, Claire McManus, Jeannie Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Background: Hospitalization can contribute to insomnia in many patients and is usually treated symptomatically. However, sedative/hypnotic misuse is associated with complications in this population, especially in the elderly. Such complications include dizziness, falls and over-sedation. Due to the implicit dangers, widespread use of these drugs for insomnia, particularly in older patients, has been discouraged by many hospitals. The aim of this study was to review and evaluate prescribing patterns and to optimize the use of the sedative/hypnotic agents through daily pharmacy interventions at a community hospital. Methods: This was a biphasic before and after study. Data on sedative/hypnotic use was collected retrospectively for a 2-month period and a sample of 100 patients was randomly selected for analysis. A 2-month prospective phase followed, in which daily orders were reviewed by one pharmacy resident and recommendations made to discontinue any unnecessary, newly prescribed sedative/hypnotic orders when appropriate. Finally, results of both phases were compared for any differences in patient demographics, being prescribed more than one sedative/hypnotic, and complications documented. Results: During the prospective phase, pharmacist interventions led to the discontinuation of 25% of a total of 97 sedative/hypnotic orders in 97 patients. The number of patients receiving more than one sedative/hypnotic agents in the intervention group was significantly lower than the retrospective control group (15 Vs. 34, P = 0.0026). The incidence of complications was not significantly different between the control and intervention groups for the following: over-sedation, falls and delirium (p = 0.835, p = 0.185, p = 0.697, respectively). Conclusion: This study suggests that the use of sedative/hypnotics in the inpatient units (excluding the critical care unit), is somewhat prevalent, and many patients may be on more than one sedative/hypnotic, which could potentially cause cumulative harm. During the intervention phase, 25% of the total in-hospital orders for sedative/hypnotics were discontinued following recommendations made by a pharmacist, and significantly lower number of patients receiving duplicate sedative/hypnotics was noted. Further efforts should be implemented to avoid unnecessary sedative/hypnotic initiation in hospitalized patients, and to ensure monitoring by pharmacists is optimized.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1204-1207
Number of pages4
JournalSaudi Pharmaceutical Journal
Issue number8
StatePublished - Dec 2018


  • Clinical pharmacy
  • Geriatrics
  • Internal medicine
  • Medication errors
  • Medication safety
  • Sleep disorders

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacology
  • Pharmaceutical Science


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