Prescribing sedatives for hospital procedures

After very careful consideration, Bridge Road Surgery has decided to no longer prescribe diazepam for patients having MRI scans or other investigative procedures. This is not a decision we took lightly; we have a duty of care to provide safe, consistent, and appropriate care for our patients. We hope the reasons outlined below help to explain our main concerns.

  • Small doses of benzodiazepines such at 2mg diazepam are probably sub-therapeutic for most adults for any effective sedation. Conversely anxiolytics can have an idiosyncratic response in patients, and even very small doses can cause increased agitation in some subsets of patients.
  • A patient may take a sedative ‘an hour’ before their assumed procedure, to then attend the hospital to find their procedure has been delayed, therefore the timing of the anxiolytic being sub optimal.
  • All hospital consultants, both those requesting imaging and those providing it, have access to the same prescribing abilities as GPs. If a patient needs a certain medication to enable an investigation to go ahead, they are just as well positioned to provide a prescription, either through the hospital pharmacy or a hospital FP10.
  • Sedated patients should be regularly monitored. The prescriber is best place to provide this monitoring in the knowledge of what has been prescribed. GPs are not in a position to monitor the patient during their procedure.
  • The Royal College of Radiologists‘ own guidelines on sedation for imaging makes no mention of GP involvement or provision of low dose anxiolytics and stresses the importance of experienced well-trained staff involved and the monitoring of sedated patients:

Sedation, analgesia and anaesthesia in the radiology department, second edition. (