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Study: Sleep drug increases hospital fall risk

Everyone knows that sleep is important when the body is trying to heal. This is why many hospitals will give patients zolpidem, commonly known as Ambien, in order to get them asleep. However, a recent study found that the risks associated with the prescription medication could end up outweighing the benefits for many patients.

The study looked at data of more than 16,000 patients at the Mayo Clinic. From there it was found that the fall rate among those who were administered Ambien was slightly over 3 percent. For those patients not prescribed the sleep drug, the fall rate was at just 0.7 percent.

It was also found that the risk for falling among those patients taking Ambien was higher than age, delirium, insomnia and mental impairment factors. The dosage also did not appear to increase or decrease the falling risk.

The fact that the fall rate was more than four times higher among those taking the sleep drug is alarming, especially considering the fact that preventing patients from falling in the hospital is one of the main goals for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Partnership for Patients project.

Upon hearing the results of the study, the Mayo Clinic has already made the decision to start to phase out the use of zolpidem and start focusing on sleep techniques that do not involve patients taking drugs.

This sleep drug falling study recently appeared in the Journal of Hospital Medicine. Looking to the future, the results could end up having an impact on hospitals in Tennessee and the medical staff's decisions on whether or not to administer Ambien to patients.

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