European Journal of Therapeutics
Original Article

Use of Controlled Medications in the Emergency Department: Narcotics and Psychotropics


Department of Emergency Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, Gazi University, Ankara, Turkey


Clinic of Emergency, Nevşehir State Hospital, Nevşehir, Turkey

Eur J Ther 2020; 26: 160-164
DOI: 10.5152/EurJTher.2020.19032
Read: 64 Downloads: 135 Published: 30 July 2020

Background: Although the trends and outcomes of controlled medications prescribed by emergency physicians, especially opioids, are well-defined in the literature, there is insufficient data regarding their parenteral use during emergency department (ED) visits. Thus, we aimed to determine the frequency of use of these drugs and the conditions under which they are ordered.


Methods: The study was conducted retrospectively in January–June 2018 in a secondary care ED in Turkey. Narcotics and psychotropics, which are controlled drugs, were administered parenterally (intravenous or intramuscular) during patients’ ED visits. Data included time of use, age, gender, diagnosis, drug (active ingredient), and type of physician (general practitioner or attending) were obtained from the registry and hospital records.


Results: During the six-month study period, parenteral controlled medication was found to have been used in 1111 ED visits (1% of all ED visits). Tramadol and pethidine were the most commonly used narcotic drugs in the ED; they were often used for musculoskeletal pain (29.1% and 47.1%, respectively) and abdominal pain (22.5% and 18.6%, respectively) during the ED visits. ED revisits of the patients who took these drugs were related to cancer pain. Meanwhile, diazepam and biperiden were the predominantly used psychotropic groups. Anxiety/agitation was the diagnosis in 69.1% of patients who received diazepam, and acute exacerbation of psychiatric disease was the diagnosis in 70.6% of patients who received biperiden. However, revisits to the ED where these drugs were used were related to acute exacerbation of psychiatric disease.

Conclusion: The rate of controlled medication use in the studied hospital is much lower than that in developed countries. This finding can be attributed to different factors, such as physician attitude, patient demand, and possibly cultural differences. Finally, revisits of these patients to the ED were mostly related to acute exacerbation of chronic diseases.


How to cite: Aslaner MA, Baykan N. Use of Controlled Medications in the Emergency Department: Narcotics and Psychotropics. Eur J Ther 2020; 26(3): 160-4.

EISSN 2564-7040