Ruchita Agrawal, University of Louisville, United States of America
Title : Careful Prescribing of Benzodiazepines during the COVID-19 Pandemic
Benzodiazepines have been commonly prescribed for the treatment of anxiety and insomnia in the last few decades. There has been a rising concern regarding safety of benzodiazepines due to overdose related deaths, addictions, and cognitive side effects. COVID- 19 pandemic is expected to cause a mental health crisis. Several studies have shown an increase in anxiety and insomnia as well as new mental health symptoms post COVID. This could mean that prescriptions of benzodiazepine could increase due to increase in anxiety and insomnia. We caution health care providers to use best practices and treat patients with psychotherapy as the first line of treatment and not pharmacotherapy. Prescription Drug Monitoring programs (PDMPs) were started due to this concern of overdose deaths, diversion related to opioids and benzodiazepines. PDMPs are mandatory in most states in the United States of America now. We recommend all health care providers to look at their benzodiazepine prescribing practice, monitor PDMP data and make policies to implement changes in order to avoid the next crisis of benzodiazepines after opioids.
Ruchita Agrawal MD, FAPA is a Board-certified Adult Psychiatrist working as an Associate Chief Medical officer at Seven Counties Services (community mental health) as well as doing Telemedicine. After completing a Psychiatry residency from the University of Louisville in 2012, she joined Seven Counties Services to follow her passion for treating patients with severe mental illness and addiction in the community. Dr. Agrawal is an Assistant Professor at the University of Louisville, is involved in the education of residents as well as research work, published several articles on mental health. She has done webinars as well as T.V interviews. Dr. Agrawal is active in Kentucky Psychiatric Medical Association. She has been awarded several awards including Frank Gaines MD award by Mental Health of America in October 2019 for significant contribution in treatment of patients with mental illness.