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TB *IMPORANT* 35Qw/exp Ch20- Anxiolytic and Hypnotic Agents
Terms in this set (35)
The nurse is caring for a patient in a state of hypnosis, which means the patient is in what state?
A) A state of extreme sedation in which the person no longer senses or reacts to incoming stimuli.
B) A state of tranquility in which the person can be made to do whatever is suggested by others.
C) A feeling of tension, nervousness, apprehension, or fear with high levels of awareness.
D) A state in which the brain is no longer sending out signals to the body.
Hypnosis is an extreme state of sedation in which the person no longer senses or reacts to incoming
stimuli. A state of tranquility is produced through minor tranquilizers by decreasing anxiety. Anxiety is
a feeling of tension, nervousness, apprehension, or fear. Sedation is the loss of awareness and reaction
to environmental stimuli, which may lead to drowsiness. The state of suggestibility often seen in
television programs is not an appropriate definition of hypnosis. If the brain stopped sending signals,
the patient would stop breathing and death would follow.
A nurse is caring for a 4-year-old child who is receiving a barbiturate. What common adverse effect
would the nurse assess for?
A) Decrease in respirations
D) Dry mucous membranes
The barbiturates, being older drugs, have established pediatric dosages. These drugs must be used with
caution because of the often unexpected responses. Children must be monitored very closely for central
nervous system (CNS) depression and excitability. The most common adverse effects are related to
general CNS depression. Other CNS effects may include drowsiness, somnolence, lethargy, ataxia, vertigo, a feeling of a hangover, thinking abnormalities, paradoxical excitement, anxiety, and
hallucinations. Alteration in respirations and dried mucous membranes are adverse effects of antihistamines, which can be given to calm children or induce sleep. Vomiting could occur with the use
of paraldehyde due to the unpleasant taste and odor of the drug.
A nurse is caring for a 9-year-old patient and has received an order for diazepam (Valium) 10 mg given
orally q.i.d. What is the nurse's priority action?
A) Perform hand hygiene and prepare the drug.
B) Send the order to the hospital pharmacy.
C) Determine when to administer the first dose.
D) Call the physician and question the order.
The first action of the nurse would be to call the physician and question the order. The normal oral
dosage for a pediatric patient is 1 to 2.5 mg t.i.d. or q.i.d. The ordered dose would be unsafe for this
patient. If the dosage was changed and the correct amount administered, the nurse would order the
medication from the pharmacy if necessary and determine what time to start the medication. She would
then wash her hands in preparation for administering the medication, but not until obtaining an
appropriate dosage of medication.
A nurse is discussing the use of alprazolam (Xanax) with a 68-year-old patient. What statement
indicates that the patient has an understanding of the drug?
A) When I stop having panic attacks, I can stop taking the drug.
B) This drug will calm me down in about 30 minutes after I take it.
C) One dose will keep me calm for about 24 hours.
D) I am taking an increased dose because of my age.
The onset of alprazolam is about 30 minutes. The drug must be tapered after long-term use and the
duration is approximately 4 to 6 hours. Elderly patients usually have a reduced dosage.
A nurse is about to administer a parenteral benzodiazepine to a female patient in the hospital before the
performance of a procedure. What is the priority nursing action before administration of the drug?
A) Make sure that the side rails are up and the bed is in the lowest position.
B) Close the blinds and ensure appropriate room temperature for the patient.
C) Help the patient out of bed to the bathroom and encourage her to void.
D) Ask all visitors to leave the room and remain in the waiting area.
The priority action would be to help the patient up to void. After the medication is administered the
patient should not get out of bed because of possibly injury due to drowsiness. Safety should always be
the priority concern. After administration of the drug the nurse would ask visitors to leave before
beginning the procedure, make the room conducive to rest and sleep, and make sure that both side rails
are up and the bed is in the lowest position.
The nurse is caring for a 36-year-old man who experienced a seizure 30 minutes before coming into the
emergency room, where he begins to have another. What barbiturate has the fastest onset and would be
most appropriate to give to the patient to quickly stop the seizure?
A) Amobarbital (Amytal Sodium)
B) Mephobarbital (Mebaral)
C) Phenobarbital (Luminal)
D) Secobarbital (Seconal)
Phenobarbital's onset is between 10 and 60 minutes, depending on the route administered, and most
likely this would be given to the patient. Amobarbital is given for convulsions and the onset is between
15 and 60 minutes. Mephobarbital's onset is between 30 and 60 minutes. Secobarbital is given for
convulsive seizures of tetanus and has an onset of 1 to 4 hours.
What anxiolytic drugs would be given to a premenopausal patient who is a registered nurse planning to
return to work at the hospital after anxiety is controlled?
A) Alprazolam (Xanax)
B) Buspirone (BuSpar)
C) Diazepam (Valium)
D) Clorazepate (Tranxene)
Buspirone is a newer anxiolytic drug that does not cause sedation or muscle relaxation. It is preferred
when the patient needs to be alert such as when driving or working. Alprazolam, diazepam, and
clorazepate are benzodiazepines, which cause drowsiness, sedation, depression, lethargy, confusion, and decreased mental alertness. It would be unsafe for a nurse to function in her role while taking one
of these drugs.
A patient arrives at the emergency room after attempting suicide by taking an entire bottle of diazepam. What antidote will the nurse most likely administer?
A) Phenobarbital (Luminal)
B) Dexmedetomidine (Precedex)
C) Flumazenil (Romazicon)
D) Ramelteon (Rozerem)
Flumazenil is an antidote to benzodiazepine overdose and is administered to reverse the effects of
benzodiazepines when used for anesthesia. Phenobarbital, a barbiturate, would further depress the body
functions of this patient. Dexmedetomidine is a new hypnotic drug used in the intensive care unit for
mechanically ventilated patients. Ramelteon is also new; it is used as a hypnotic. Adverse effects of this
drug include depression and suicidal ideation.
The nurse is caring for a resident in a long-term care facility who is African American with a history of
an anxiety disorder. The patient is receiving oral lorazepam (Ativan) 2 mg t.i.d. When developing this
patient's plan of care, what priority assessment will the nurse include?
B) Extreme sedation
Special care should be taken when anxiolytic or hypnotic drugs are given to African Americans. About
15% to 20% of African Americans are genetically predisposed to delayed metabolism of
benzodiazepines. As a result, they may develop high serum levels of these drugs, with increased
sedation and an increased incidence of adverse effects. Depression is not a common adverse effect. Phlebitis can occur at injection sites but this patient is taking the medication orally. Nightmares occur
during drug withdrawal.
An elderly patient has been taking zolpidem (Ambien) as a sleep aid for the past 2 months. On
admission to the assisted-living facility, it is determined that the drug is no longer needed. What is an
important nursing consideration concerning this drug?
A) Hallucinations are common.
B) The drug needs to be withdrawn gradually.
C) Another anxiolytic will need to be substituted.
D) Sundowning is common with withdrawal from this drug.
It is important for the nurse to understand that zolpidem must be withdrawn gradually over a 2-week
period after prolonged use. If chloral hydrate is stopped suddenly, it will result in serious adverse
effects. Hallucinations and sundowning are not common with withdrawal of the drug. The prescriber
and the patient would determine the need for chloral hydrate to be substituted for another anxiolytic.
Why would the nurse expect the patient with liver disease to receive a smaller dose of
A) Excretion of the drug relies on liver function.
B) The drugs are metabolized extensively in the liver.
C) They are lipid soluble and well distributed throughout the body.
D) The drugs are well absorbed from the gastrointestinal tract.
The benzodiazepines are metabolized extensively in the liver. Patients with liver disease must receive a smaller dose and be monitored closely. Excretion is primarily through the urine. All of the answer options are true, but only the fact that the benzodiazepines are metabolized in the liver explains why a patient with liver disease would require smaller dosages.
When compared with benzodiazepines, buspirone (BuSpar) stands out as unique among antianxiety
drugs because of what factor?
A) Increases the central nervous system (CNS) depression of alcohol and other drugs.
B) Lacks muscle relaxant and anticonvulsant effects.
C) Causes significant physical and psychological dependence.
D) Rapidly absorbed from the gastrointestinal (GI) tract and metabolized in the liver.
Buspirone, a newer antianxiety agent, has no sedative, anticonvulsant, or muscle-relaxant properties, and its mechanism of action is unknown. However, it reduces the signs and symptoms of anxiety
without many of the central nervous system effects and severe adverse effects associated with other
anxiolytic drugs. Most of the antianxiety drugs are rapidly absorbed from the GI tract, metabolized in
the liver, have a significant drugdrug interaction with alcohol and other drugs, and can result in
What would the nurse assess for when benzodiazepines are abruptly stopped?
A) Urinary retention and change in sexual functioning
B) Dry mouth, constipation, nausea, and vomiting
C) Nausea, headache, vertigo, malaise, and nightmares
D) In most cases nothing significant
Abrupt cessation of these drugs may lead to a withdrawal syndrome characterized by nausea, headache, vertigo, malaise, and nightmares. When benzodiazepines are stopped abruptly the likelihood of
withdrawal symptoms increases with the length of time the patient took the medication. Urinary retention, change in sexual functioning, dry mouth, constipation, nausea, and vomiting are all common
adverse effects of the medications classified as benzodiazepines.
The nurse is caring for a patient in intensive care unit receiving IV lorazepam (Ativan) to reduce
anxiety related to mechanical ventilation. While injecting the medication the nurse notes a decrease in
blood pressure and bradycardia. What is the nurse's priority action?
A) Discontinue drug administration.
B) Give the IV drug more slowly.
C) Notify the patient's health care provider.
D) Document the reaction to the drug.
The nurse's priority action is to slow the rate of injection because rapid injection of benzodiazepines
can result in hypotension and bradycardia and can lead to cardiac arrest.
For what purpose would the nurse choose to administer a hypnotic instead of another classification of
A) Treating insomnia
B) Treating seizure disorder
C) Treating panic attach
D) Treating confusion and agitation
Hypnotics are used to help people fall asleep by causing sedation. Drugs that are effective hypnotics act
on the reticular activating system (RAS) and block the brain's response to incoming stimuli. Hypnotics
would not be the most effective drugs to treat seizure disorders, panic attack, or confusion with
The nurse assesses the patient who had an abrupt withdrawal of benzodiazepines for withdrawal
syndrome and would recognize what symptoms as part of the syndrome? (Select all that apply.)
Ans: A, B, C
Abrupt cessation of benzodiazepines may lead to a withdrawal syndrome characterized by nausea, headache, vertigo, malaise, and nightmares. Withdrawal symptoms may be caused by the abrupt
separation of benzodiazepine molecules from their receptor sites and the resulting acute decrease in
gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) neurotransmission. Because GABA is an inhibitory
neurotransmitter, less GABA may produce a less inhibited central nervous system (CNS) and therefore
symptoms of hyperarousal or CNS stimulation. The nurse would not categorize hypotension or
bradycardia as indicating benzodiazepine withdrawal.
A 75-year-old patient is brought to the emergency department by his family. The family relates that the
patient is complaining of confusion, seizures, and abnormal perception of movement. The nurse
reviews all of the medication bottles found in the house and suspects the patient overdosed on what
Common manifestations of benzodiazepine toxicity include increased anxiety, psychomotor agitation,
insomnia, irritability, headache, tremor, and palpitations. Less common but more serious manifestations
include confusion, abnormal perception of movement, depersonalization, psychosis, and seizures. These symptoms are not found in association with options B, C, or D.
The nurse is caring for a patient who experiences anxiety and insomnia and is prescribed
benzodiazepines. When developing the plan of care, what would be an appropriate nursing diagnosis
related to potential adverse effects of the drug?
A) Provide patient teaching about drug therapy.
B) Anxiety related to drug therapy.
C) Risk for injury related to central nervous system (CNS) effects.
D) Avoid preventable adverse effects, including abuse and dependence.
The most appropriate nursing diagnosis related to adverse effects of the drug is risk for injury related to
CNS effects because benzodiazepines can have many CNS adverse effects. Anxiety is the condition for
which drug therapy is prescribed not related to drug therapy. Patient teaching and avoiding adverse
effects are interventions and not nursing diagnoses.
A patient is being discharged home from the hospital after receiving treatment for pneumonia. The
patient is going home and continuing to take the same drugs he or she was taking before he or she was
hospitalized. These drugs include an antianxiety medication and a medication for insomnia. The home
care nurse is following this patient. On the initial visit what is the nurse's priority teaching point?
A) The names and purposes of medications prescribed
B) How to contact the provider if needed
C) The importance of taking medications for insomnia only occasionally
D) Warning signs that may indicate serious adverse effects
The home care nurse should provide thorough patient teaching, with a priority teaching point being the
warning signs the patient may experience that indicate a serious adverse effect. Although this may have
been discussed by the discharging nurse in the hospital, this is essential information for the patient to
thoroughly understand. By the time the home care nurse visits, the patient should already have filled the
prescriptions and know the names and purposes of the medications prescribed from the hospital nurse
but it is a good idea to review this information, although it is not a priority. Medications for insomnia
should be taken as prescribed. The patient should have received the provider's contact information
when leaving the hospital but the home care nurse may need to review this, even though it is not the
priority teaching point.
Hypnotic drugs are used to aid people in falling asleep. What physiological system does a hypnotic act
on to be effective in helping a patient to sleep?
A) Limbic system
B) Sympathetic nervous system
C) Reticular activating system
D) Lymph system
Hypnotics are used to help people fall asleep by causing sedation. Drugs that are effective hypnotics act
on the reticular activating system and block the brain's response to incoming stimuli. Hypnosis,
therefore, is the extreme state of sedation, in which the person no longer senses or reacts to incoming
stimuli. The other options are incorrect.
A patient presents at the emergency department with respiratory depression and excessive sedation. The
family tells the nurse that the patient has been taking medication throughout the evening and gives the
nurse an almost empty bottle of benzodiazepines. What other adverse effects would the nurse assess
this patient for?
Toxic effects of benzodiazepines include excessive sedation, respiratory depression, and coma. Flumazenil (Anexate) is a specific antidote that competes with benzodiazepines for benzodiazepine
receptors and reverses toxicity. Seizures, tachycardia, and headache would not normally be associated
with benzodiazepine toxicity.
A patient presents at the free clinic complaining of nervousness, worrying about everything, and feeling
very tense. What diagnose would the nurse suspect?
Anxiety is a common disorder that may be referred to as nervousness, tension, worry, or using other
terms that denote an unpleasant feeling. The other options would not be described by these symptoms.
The nurse is caring for a patient who is taking a benzodiazepine. The nurse knows that caution should
be used when administering a benzodiazepine to the elderly because of what possible adverse effect?
A) Acute renal failure
B) Unpredictable reactions
Use benzodiazepines with caution in elderly or debilitated patients because of the possibility of
unpredictable reactions and in patients with renal or hepatic dysfunction, which may alter the
metabolism and excretion of these drugs, resulting in direct toxicity. Dosage adjustments usually are
needed for such patients. Acute renal failure, paranoia, and hallucinations are not commonly related to
therapy with these medications in the elderly.
A 72-year-old patient presents at the emergency department with respiratory depression and excessive
sedation. The family tells the nurse that the patient has been taking medication throughout the evening. The nurse suspects benzodiazepine overdose and would expect what drug to be ordered?
Toxic effects of benzodiazepines include excessive sedation, respiratory depression, and coma. Flumazenil is an antidote for the benzodiazepines. Hydroxyzine is an antihistamine with anticholinergic
effects and would not be appropriate for this patient. Valium would enhance the effects of
benzodiazepines. Phenergan is not indicated for this patient; it is similar in actions to hydroxyzine.
The nurse is caring for a patient who has not been able to sleep. The physician orders a barbiturate
medication for this patient. What adverse effect should the nurse teach the patient about?
A) Double vision
D) Thinking abnormalities
The most common adverse effects are related to general central nervous system (CNS) depression. CNS effects may include drowsiness, somnolence, lethargy, ataxia, vertigo, a resembling a hangover,
thinking abnormalities, paradoxical excitement, anxiety, and hallucinations. Barbiturate drugs generally
do not cause double vision, paranoia, or tinnitus.
An older adult African American patient comes to the clinic and is diagnosed with generalized anxiety
disorder (GAD). The physician orders oral flurazepam 30 mg. What is the nurse's priority action?
A) Teach the patient about the prescribed medication.
B) Administer the first dose of medication.
C) Tell patient to take first dosage after driving home.
D) Talk to the physician about the dosage.
If an anxiolytic or hypnotic agent is the drug of choice for an African American patient, the smallest
possible dose should be used, and the patient should be monitored very closely during the first week of
treatment. Dosage adjustments are necessary to achieve the most effective dose with the fewest adverse
effects. In addition, older adults also require careful titration of dosage. Older patients may be more
susceptible to the adverse effects of these drugs, from unanticipated central nervous system (CNS)
adverse effects including increased sedation, dizziness, and even hallucinations. Dosages of all of these
drugs should be reduced and the patient should be monitored very closely for toxic effects and to
provide safety measures if CNS effects do occur. As a result, the priority action is to talk to the
physician about the dosage. The other actions may be appropriate after a proper dosage is ordered.
The nurse is caring for a patient who has a sedative hypnotic ordered. The nurse would consider this
drug contraindicated if the patient had what disorder?
A) Neurological diseases
B) Liver failure
C) Endocrine disorders
D) Heart disease
Benzodiazepines undergo extensive hepatic metabolism. In the presence of liver disease, the
metabolism of most benzodiazepines is slowed, with resultant accumulation and increased risk of
adverse effects. Neurological disorders, endocrine disorders, and heart disease are not contraindications
for the use of benzodiazepines.
The nurse evaluates teaching as effective when a patient taking a benzodiazepine states,
A) I should always take the medication with meals.
B) I should not stop taking this drug without talking to my health care provider first.
C) I cannot take aspirin with this medication.
D) I will have to take this medication for the rest of my life.
The patient makes a correct statement when saying the drug should not be stopped without talking to
the health care provider first because withdrawal of benzodiazepines require careful monitoring and
should be gradually withdrawn. Medications do not have to be taken with food, aspirin is not contraindicated, and the medication need only be taken while the condition being treated continues. Patients with anxiety may only need the medication for a few weeks whereas those with a seizure
disorder may take it for longer periods of time.
The nurse is caring for a patient treated with flumazenil (Anexate) for benzodiazepine toxicity. After
administering flumazenil what will the nurse carefully assess for?
A) Agitation, confusion, and seizures
B) Cerebral hemorrhage and dystonia
C) Hypertension and renal insufficiency
D) Hypotension, dysrhythmias, and cardiac arrest
Administration of flumazenil blocks the action of benzodiazepines. If the patient has been taking these
medications for an extended period of time, the blockage of the drug's effects could precipitate an acute
benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome with symptoms
The nurse administers promethazine (Phenergan) to the patient before sending the patient to the
preoperative holding area. What is the rationale for administration of this drug?
B) Oral secretions
C) Hypotension and bradycardia
Antihistamines (promethazine, diphenhydramine [Benadryl]) can be very sedating in some people.
They are used as pre-operative medications and postoperatively to decrease the need for narcotics. Promethazine it's not given for hypertension, bradycardia, confusion, or oral secretions.
What reasons can the nurse give for why barbiturates are no longer considered the mainstay for
treatment of anxiety? (Select all that apply.)
A) Adverse effects are more severe.
B) There is an increased risk of physical tolerance.
C) There is an increased risk of psychological dependence.
D) The most common adverse effects are related to cardiac arrhythmias.
E) Hypersensitivity reactions can sometimes be fatal.
Ans: A, B, C, E
The adverse effects caused by barbiturates are more severe than those associated with other, newer
sedatives/hypnotics. For this reason, barbiturates are no longer considered the mainstay for the
treatment of anxiety. In addition, the development of physical tolerance and psychological dependence
is more likely with the barbiturates than with other anxiolytics. The most common adverse effects are
related to central nervous system (CNS) depression. Hypersensitivity reactions to barbiturates are
The nurse is teaching a class for nurses working in prenatal clinics about the danger associated with use
of benzodiazepines during pregnancy and explains that what fetal anomalies result from maternal use
of benzodiazepines during the first trimester of pregnancy? (Select all that apply.)
A) Cleft lip or palate
B) Inguinal hernia
C) Cardiac defects
Ans: A, B, C, D
Benzodiazepines are contraindicated in pregnancy because a predictable syndrome of cleft lip or palate,
inguinal hernia, cardiac defects, microcephaly, or pyloric stenosis occurs when they are taken in the
first trimester. Gastroschises, when the abdominal organs are found outside the abdominal cavity, is not
associated with use of benzodiazepine use in the first trimester.
The nurse is caring for a newborn who was delivered from a woman who took benzodiazepines for
anxiety during the last 2 months of her pregnancy after her husband was killed in war. What will the
nurse assess for in this newborn?
A) Newborn withdrawal syndrome
B) Hepatic dysfunction
C) Failure to thrive
D) Learning deficiencies
Neonatal withdrawal syndrome may result in a baby born to a mother who was taking benzodiazepines
in the final weeks of pregnancy. The neonate may be given very small doses of benzodiazepines that
are withdrawn gradually to prevent symptoms. Hepatic dysfunction in the neonate is not associated
with use of benzodiazepines. Failure to thrive and learning deficiencies would be long-term problems
and are not assessed during the neonatal period.
The nurse is caring for a patient who received a new diagnosis of cancer. The patient exhibits signs of a
sympathetic stress reaction. What signs and symptoms will the nurse assess in this patient consistent
with an acute reaction to stress? (Select all that apply.)
A) Profuse sweating
B) Fast heart rate
C) Rapid breathing
E) Inability to interact with others
Ans: A, B, C
Anxiety is often accompanied by signs and symptoms of the sympathetic stress reaction that may
include sweating, fast heart rate, rapid breathing, and elevated blood pressure. Chronically anxious
people may be afraid to interact with other people but this is not usually seen in an acute stress reaction.
The nurse is caring for an older adult in the long-term care facility who has begun to display signs of
anxiety and insomnia. What is the priority nursing action?
A) Assess the patient for physical problems.
B) Call the provider and request an antianxiety drug order.
C) Increase the patient's social time, encouraging interaction with others.
D) Suggest the family visit more often to reduce the resident's stress level.
The patient should be screened for physical problems, neurological deterioration, or depression, which
could contribute to the insomnia or anxiety. Only after physical problems are ruled out would the nurse
consider nondrug measures such as increased socialization with other residents or family members. If
nothing else is effective, pharmacological intervention may be necessary.
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