Study: Slash falls by using restraints, fewer drugs

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Giving fewer sleeping pills and selectively restraining some residents could produce far fewer resident falls, according to a new report out of Sweden.

Sleeping pills with benzodiazepines (sedatives) made study subjects 2.9 times more likely to fall, antipsychotic drugs (neuroleptics) made them 1.9 times more likely, and sleeping pills and antidepressants made them 1.4 times more likely to fall, scientists led by the Karolinska Institutet learned. They analyzed 2,343 reported falls and fractures at 21 nursing home units over a four-year period.

While urging caution and medical necessity in using restraints, researchers said the devices put study subjects significantly below a base 1.0 falls risk. Bed rails dropped the risk to 0.5, while, individuals in wheelchairs (who had been assessed as a fall risk) registered 0.7.

"Our results suggests that freedom-restricting actions cannot eliminate falls totally, but they might be protective when used selectively with fewer sedatives, especially benzodiazepines," said researcher Edit Fonad in this month's issue of the Journal of Clinical Nursing.