Study verifies 'as-needed' drugs, falls tie

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Psychotropic drugs, including antipsychotics and antidepressants, increase the risk of falls among nursing home residents, according to a recently published study. 

Previous research had shown a link between psychotropic prescriptions and falls in nursing home residents, but little was known of how “as-needed” prescriptions impacted fall rates. 

The study, published in the December issue of JAMDA – The Journal of Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine by Dutch researchers, not only backed up earlier research, but also found a relationship between falls and the as-needed drugs.

The study's authors found that 33.5% of the 2,368 residents studied had at least one fall, which most often occurred on days when a psychotropic drug was prescribed on a scheduled basis. Residents receiving the drugs on a scheduled basis had a nearly threefold increase in falls. An increase in fall incidence also was noted in residents prescribed the drugs on an as-needed basis. 

Study results revealed no link between fall incidence and the prescription of benzodiazepines, the authors noted.