To evaluate the care given by internists in group practices at 16 academic medical centers to patients who used minor tranquilizers or antidepressants, data were abstracted from medical records and compared with specific criteria for quality care. Of 1,532 continuing care patients, 18% used minor tranquilizers and 7% used antidepressants. Almost 90% of antidepressants were prescribed for depression and 50% of minor tranquilizers were prescribed for mental health problems. The group practice internists performed well on concrete aspects of care, such as avoiding giving minor tranquilizers intravenously or intramuscularly and scheduling follow-up visits. Relatively few patients, however, had an adequate treatment plan noted in the chart. About 25% of users of minor tranquilizers did not have an acceptable indication for the drug noted in the chart. Less than 10% of users of minor tranquilizers had a plan for discontinuing the drug use; yet, 35% had long-term regular use.
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