The use of an electronic clinical rule to discontinue chronically used benzodiazepines and related Z drugs

C. Mestres Gonzalvo*, V. Milosevic, B. P. C. van Oijen, H. A. J. M. de Wit, K. P. G. M. Hurkens, W. J. Mulder, R. Janknegt, J. M. G. A. Schols, F. R. Verhey, B. Winkens, P. H. M. van der Kuy

*Corresponding author for this work

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Purpose The chronic use of benzodiazepines and benzodiazepine-related drugs (BZ/Z) in older people is common and not without risks. The objective of this study was to evaluate whether the implementation of a clinical rule promotes the discontinuation of chronically used BZ/Z for insomnia. Methods A clinical rule, generating an alert in case of chronic BZ/Z use, was created and applied to the nursing home (NH) setting. The clinical rule was a one-off intervention, and alerts did not occur over time. Reports of the generated alerts were digitally sent to NH physicians with the advice to phase out and eventually stop the BZ/Z. In cases where the advice was adopted, a follow-up period of 4 months on the use of BZ/Z was taken into account in order to determine whether the clinical rule alert led to a successful discontinuation of BZ/Z. Results In all, 808 NH patients were screened. In 161 (19.1%) of the patients, BZ/Z use resulted in a clinical rule alert. From these, the advice to phase out and stop the BZ/Z was adopted for 27 patients (16.8%). Reasons for not following the advice consisted of an unsuccessful attempt in the past (38 patients), patients family and/or patient resistance (37 patients), the non-continuous use of BZ/Z (32 patients) and indication still present (27 patients). Of the 12 NH physicians, seven adopted the advice. Conclusions The success rate of a clinical rule for discontinuation of chronically used BZ/Z for insomnia was low, as reported in the present study. Actions should be taken to help caregivers, patients and family members understand the importance of limiting BZ/Z use to achieve higher discontinuation rates.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-231
Number of pages5
JournalEuropean Journal of Clinical Pharmacology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2018


  • Benzodiazepines
  • Nursing home patients
  • Clinical rule
  • Discontinuation

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