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The prescribing of psychotropic drugs was studied in a Scottish general practice of five doctors and 8,300 patients; one third of the patients were aged 12 years or less. In 1971, 336 prescriptions for psychotropic drugs were issued to 172 children and 2,583 to the adults. Most children were given only one prescription, but some needed up to ten in one year.
The drugs consisted of sedatives (43 per cent), tranquillisers (41 per cent), and hypnotics (17 per cent). Most were given for behaviour disorders and enuresis. The analysis of drugs given by each doctor showed that one had given about one third of the total. This demonstration of comparative over-prescribing was useful in discussing self-audit.