Warning About Ambien

Posted at: 11/21/2012 5:13 PM

Millions use Ambien to help them get some sleep. However this very popular prescription drug, could cause problems if you are a hospital patient. ABC's Dr. Timothy Johnson explains in this Medical Minute.

Zolpidem is a widely-prescribed sleeping pill most familiar under the brand name Ambien.

Now a study in the Journal of Hospital Medicine has a strong caution for in- patients who are prescribed the drug.

They are at a four-times-higher risk of taking a fall while staying in the hospital.

The study looked at almost five-thousand [4,962] patients who took Zolpidem and more than eleven thousand [11,358] who did not.

Just over 3% of the Zolpidem patients fell while in the hospital, compared to less than 1% for those not taking the drug.

The increased risk persisted even when researchers took into account the length of hospital stay and other risks for falling.

The authors cite other studies in which Zolpidem impaired balance in healthy volunteers and played a role in falling. They say Zolpidem is a strong risk factor for in-patient falls, a significant safety issue in hospitals.