Drug Safety News: Drugs and the Risk of Falling (2009-03)

Barbara Cadario, B.Sc.(Hon), B.Sc.Phm., M.Sc., BC Drug and Poison Information Centre; BC Falls and Injury Prevention Coalition

Falls are a major cause of morbidity and mortality in the elderly population around the world. While many factors can contribute to the risk of falling, drugs are one of those risk factors, increasing that risk by 50-100%. A new document describing an approach to prevent medication-related falls has been created in British Columbia by the BC Falls and Injury Prevention Coalition (see below). This document is evidence-based and goes beyond providing a list of “risky” drugs, since for many drugs there is only minimal scientific evidence of their impact on falls. An individualized approach is emphasized, focusing of potential adverse drug reactions, notably drowsiness and dizziness, that increase the falls risk.


Note that it is not just a matter of reducing the chance of the patient falling; some medications such as warfarin do not increase the risk of falling, but can lead to serious outcomes such as cerebral hemorrhage if a patient does fall.  Ideally, this document can form the basis of a medication review both before a patient falls, and in patients who have fallen.  For further information on Falls Prevention, see the BC Injury Research and Prevention Unit website at www.injuryresearch.bc.ca.



©2009 B.C. Drug and Poison Information Centre

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A version of this document was published in BCPhA Tablet 2009;18(6):9