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Study Finds Sleep Aid Drugs Contribute to Falls, Injuries in Nursing Homes

According to new research, the use of sleep aid medications, such as Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata, may increase the risk of nursing home falls and hip fractures among elderly residents. In the study, researchers from Harvard Medical School examined nursing home medical records and analyzed the impact of certain insomnia medications on the balance, cognitive …

According to new research, the use of sleep aid medications, such as Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata, may increase the risk of nursing home falls and hip fractures among elderly residents. In the study, researchers from Harvard Medical School examined nursing home medical records and analyzed the impact of certain insomnia medications on the balance, cognitive abilities and memory of older patients. According to their findings, which were published online by JAMA Internal Medicine, the use of sleeping medications increased the risk of patients falling and suffering a hip fracture by an alarming 66%, compared to other nursing home residents and their corresponding fall rates. If you or a loved one has suffered a nursing home injury that you believe to be related to a dangerous pharmaceutical drug, consult our experienced attorneys at Oklahoma Legal Center for legal help.

Risk of Falls Increases With Use of Insomnia Drug

The risks of administering benzodiazepine drugs like Valium to elderly patients in long-term care settings have long been known. However, this latest study focused specifically on non-benzodiazepine medications like Lunesta, Ambien and Sonata. During their research, the study authors analyzed medical data involving 15,528 U.S. long-term nursing home residents over the age of 50 who sustained a hip fracture between July 1, 2007, and December 31, 2008. The researchers found that 11% of the seniors who suffered hip fractures were given a non-benzodiazepine drug prior to the injury, and nursing home residents who had been put on the medications recently had more than double the risk.

Potential Risks of Sleep Aid Medications

“New users and residents having mild to moderate cognitive impairment or requiring limited assistance with transfers may be most vulnerable to the use of these drugs,” the researchers wrote. “Caution should be exercise when prescribing sleep medications to nursing home residents.” These significant findings come about two months after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a safety alert concerning the potential risk of side effects with high doses of Ambien. In light of this potential danger, the agency asked manufacturers of powerful insomnia medications containing the active ingredient zolpidem to lower the recommended dosage to protect users from unnecessary harm.

Contact Our Experienced Attorneys to File a Claim

No pharmaceutical drug should put patients at risk of serious injury, particularly elderly patients in nursing homes that are typically more vulnerable to harm. If you have been injured in a nursing home accident in Oklahoma, or if you lost a loved one because of a nursing home fall, contact our reputable lawyers at Oklahoma Legal Center today to discuss your legal options. You may have grounds to file a negligence lawsuit against the nursing home facility or staff, in order to pursue financial compensation for the resulting injuries, medical expenses, and pain and suffering. Nursing home facilities are entrusted with the well-being of elderly individuals throughout Oklahoma, and are expected to practice a reasonable standard of care to protect them from harm. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case.

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