Study: Inpatient Sleeping Drug Quadruples Fall Risk

A new study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine found that a drug commonly used to help inpatients sleep is correlated with an increased risk of falls.

Researchers from the Mayo Clinic compared the fall rate of nearly 5,000 patients who took the drug zolpidem to more than 11,000 patients who did not take the drug. The analysis found that the risk of falls was nearly four times as high for patients on the drug.

Approximately 3 percent of the patients on zolpidem fell during their inpatient hospital stay, compared with 0.7 percent of the patients who did not take zolpidem. Further, the risk of a fall posed by the drug was determined to be greater than the risk posed by age, cognitive impairment, delirium or insomnia.

The researchers hope that identifying the use of zolpidem as a fall risk will help providers be more vigilant in monitoring these patients, thereby reducing the number of patient falls that occur.

"Discovering that zolpidem, which is commonly used in hospitals, is a significant risk factor for patient falls provides us with additional knowledge to help tackle this problem," said Timothy I. Morgenthaler, MD, the Clinic's chief patient safety officer.

More Articles on Fall Risk:

8 Common Elements of Successful Falls Prevention Programs
HMA Rolls Out Technology Designed to Prevent Patient Falls

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