Nursing Home Falls: Medication Impacting Safety of Wilmington Seniors
Swedish researchers conducted a large-scale study that reviewed the records of nearly seven million patients aged 65 and older. The researchers found 64,399 elderly individuals who had been admitted to the hospital for injuries resulting from a fall between March of 2006 and December of 2009. The researchers matched participants based on four controls: gender, place of residence, date of birth and the 20 most commonly prescribed medications for all of the patients in the 30 days prior to suffering a fall.
The goal of the research was to determine if certain medications could increase the risk of an elderly person falling. The research showed a clear link. A personal injury lawyer knows that past studies have also shown medications can play a major role in increasing the risk of a fall injury. The past studies were more limited in scale and did not focus on the severity of the risk. Information from the new study can prove invaluable to doctors who make decisions about what drugs to prescribe seniors and also to nursing homes and other caregivers of elderly individuals.
Medications and Fall Injury Risks
According to Pharmacy Times, 10 of the most commonly prescribed medications significantly increase the risk that a fall would occur. The three medications that affected the central nervous system had the biggest impact. Opioid pain killers, anti-depressants, hypnotics, analgesics and sedatives were the medications that seem to cause the greatest risks of falls for patients, especially opioids and antidepressants. Other medications linked to fall injuries included drugs prescribed for gastroesophageal reflux disease and ulcers; vitamin B12; cancer; and some non-opioid pain killers.
Researchers could not conclusively say that these medications were always the cause of the added risk of falls among seniors taking the drugs. In some cases, the elderly person may have been prescribed the drug precisely because he or she had an underlying condition that could also lead to an increased risk of falling. In general, however, it was clear that medications did have an impact.
Some medications, however, had a protective effect and could potentially reduce the risk of a senior suffering injuries from a fall. Cardiovascular medications were one example of a drug that seemed to have a protective effect that had not been previously studied or identified.
News Max Health also reported on the study, with the reporter noting that it should be of special interest in the United States. In this country, there are 40 million senior citizens who are over 65. This age group consumes prescription drugs in large numbers, with 1/3 of senior citizens taking eight or more medications.
If the medications increase the risk that a senior will fall, doctors need to consider that and warn their patients before prescribing the drug. Nursing homes also need to be aware of the added fall risk that senior citizens face and should take care to protect their residents who are on drugs that could make them likely to fall.
Help is available for accidents victims in Willmington, NC. Contact the Law Offices of Richard Flexner at 800-FLEXNER or visit https://www.getflexner.com to schedule a free consultation.