International Journal of Psychiatry Research


Benzodiazepine Overdose in a Non-English-Speaking Patient: Case Report on Cultural Competency and Asian Pharmacy Practices

Jun Lin, Justin Chin, Zhou Lin Yu, Bina Kviatkovsky, Christine Lomiguen.

Physician training in cultural sensitivity is important for effective history taking, particularly in psychiatry. Added difficulty exists when working with non-English-speaking patients, in which culture plays a prominent role in the underdiagnosis of psychiatric illnesses, especially in Asian and Pacific Islander geriatric populations. An 81-year-old, non-English-speaking female with no psychiatric history was brought to the emergency department by her son after he discovered she ingested 8-10 tablets of alprazolam of unknown dosage in a 10-hour period. Upon questioning, the patient admitted she obtained the medication from China without a prescription to self-treat her anxiety and difficulty sleeping. This case study brings awareness to the accessibility and ease of acquiring medications in countries with inconsistently enforced drug regulatory policies, enumerates factors which influence self-medication, and illustrates potential danger of stigmatization and negative cultural perceptions toward psychiatric healthcare. Recognition of this scenario is critical to appropriately address psychiatric needs of nonEnglish-speaking patients.

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