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Int J Psychiatry Clin Pract. 2009;13(4):253-8. doi: 10.3109/13651500902849987.

The use of prn medication in a child and adolescent mental health inpatient service in France.

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Department of Pharmacy, AP-HP, Hôpital Robert Debré, Paris, France, Université Paris Descartes, Paris, France.



The aim of this study was to investigate the use of "as needed" (pro re nata or prn) psychotropic medication in a child and adolescent psychiatric inpatient population. The study was carried out on the psychiatry ward of a paediatric teaching hospital in Paris, France.


A prospective analysis of prn psychotropic drug prescriptions and administrations was conducted for all patients hospitalised over a period of 4 months. The study group consisted of 187 patients.


In total, 93 prn prescriptions were written, for 27% of the patients (51) but only 14% (26) received a total of 76 administrations. Antipsychotic drugs accounted for 54% of the prescriptions, anxiolytics for 33%, antiepileptic drugs for 8%, antiparkinsonian drugs for 4% and hypnotic drugs for 1%. Anxiety was the reason given for 67% of the prn administrations, with hydroxyzine used in 69% of these cases. Disruptive behaviour accounted for 22% of prn administrations, with antipsychotic drugs accounting for 88% of these administrations. Insomnia accounted for 8% of prn administrations, and antipsychotic drug-induced dystonia accounted for 3% of such administrations.


Controlled studies are required to assess the efficacy and safety of prn medication and the conditions in which its use is indicated.


adolescent; child; inpatient; prn medication; psychiatry


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