Background Falls in the elderly is a major public health problem. One-third of people over 65 fall at least once a year. Polypharmacy, which is defined as taking more than four drugs a day, is a major risk factor for falls in the elderly.
Purpose The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of use of drugs that increase the risk of falls and the impact of changes in these treatments in the occurrence of falls in the hospital.
Material and methods This study was a retrospective chart review of patients who sustained falls in the hospital. The list of fallers was obtained from the fall reporting data. In the first part, the clinical characteristics of patients and environmental falls were analysed.
In the second part, the pharmaceutical data of patients with a recent modification of their treatments were sought (number of medications per day, hypotensive and inducing drowsiness treatments and type of recent modifications of these treatments).
Results Seventy-three per cent of patients were falling in their rooms. Patients during the fall were mostly calm and wandering. In the majority of cases, the falls were of no clinical consequence (69%).
Fifteen per cent of patients had a change in their treatment before falling. The average number of drugs per patient was nine per day. In these patients, the rate of prescription of drugs at risk of falling was high (87% for hypotensive treatments and 91% for inducing drowsiness treatments). A very high consumption of diuretics (40%) and benzodiazepines (60%) was observed. The combination of benzodiazepines was found in 16% of patients. Respectively, 24% and 65% of patients had a modification in their hypotensive and inducing drowsiness treatments.
Conclusion The use of drugs that increased the risk of falling was common in our hospital. The recent change in inducing drowsiness treatments seemed to increase the risk of falling.
Pharmaceutical interventions with prescribers on good prescribing practices in the elderly should be strengthened to minimise the use of drugs at risk of falling.
References and/or acknowledgements Thanks to the Health Framework.
No conflict of interest.