Potentially inappropriate prescribing of benzodiazepines for older adults and risk of falls during a hospital stay: A descriptive study

Stacy Ackroyd-Stolarz, Neil J. MacKinnon, Ingrid Sketris, Brenda Sabo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Falls have been identified as a potential adverse event associated with the administration of psychotropic medications to older patients. Objective: The objective of this exploratory study was to examine the association between potentially inappropriate prescribing of benzodiazepines, as defined by the Beers criteria, by older adults (at least 65 years of age) and the risk of having a fall during acute inpatient care. Methods: This 1-year retrospective cross-sectional study of discharges from a tertiary care hospital in Halifax, Nova Scotia, used pharmacy data to identify the prescription of benzodiazepines listed in the updated Beers criteria as being associated with an increased risk of falls. These data were linked with information on in-hospital falls from occurrence report forms. Results: For 5831 (58.1%) of the 10 044 discharges, the patient had received a prescription for at least one benzodiazepine during the hospital stay. A total of 574 falls were reported (for 374 patients), and 226 (39.4%) of the falls resulted in an injury. According to the Beers criteria, for 936 (9.3%) of the discharges, the patient had received a prescription for at least one potentially inappropriate benzodiazepine. However, there was no statistically significant difference between patients with a prescription for a potentially inappropriate benzodiazepine and those receiving an appropriate or no benzodiazepine in terms of occurrence of falls (4.5% versus 3.8%, p = 0.30) or fall-related injuries (2.6% versus 1.8%, p = 0.08). The median length of stay was about 3 days longer for the former group (9 versus 6 days, p < 0.001). Conclusions: The findings from the current study do not support use of the Beers criteria related to benzodiazepines alone for identifying patients at risk of falls or injuries.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)276-283
Number of pages8
JournalCanadian Journal of Hospital Pharmacy
Volume62
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Acute care
  • Beers criteria
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Fall-related injuries
  • Older adults
  • Potentially inappropriate medications

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pharmacy
  • Pharmacology (medical)

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