You may have heard horror stories of people driving while under the influence of sleeping pills. You may not be aware, however, that sleeping pills have also now been linked to serious slip and fall injuries. Here's what you should know.
Sleeping pills are a common treatment for insomnia.
Insomnia is a common disorder, with as many as 35 percent of adults suffering from it at one time or another. It can include difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep. Around 1 in 10 people suffer from some form of chronic insomnia. Sleeping pills containing the ingredient zolpidem are a common prescription for the disorder.
The side effects can be dangerous.
Aside from people sleep walking (and driving) while on zolpidem, there are other side effects that can easily lead to slips and falls. Some side effects can include confusion, clumsiness, unsteadiness, dizziness, fainting, lightheadedness, and disorientation.
As zolpidem has become increasingly common in prescriptions for insomnia, there's been a huge increase in emergency room visits related to the drug. In 2005, there were only a little over 6,000 ER visits related to the drug. In 2010, that number jumped to more than 64,000!
Some people are more at risk than others.
Research has shown that older adults and women are most at risk of developing side-effects of the drug. Not enough is known yet about the reasons why older adults and women seem to have more problems to draw significant conclusions, but some studies indicate that some patients (especially women) metabolize the drug slower than others. That leaves enough medication in their system in the morning to make them still impaired. Sometimes, because of combined side effects, other medications are a complicating factor.
As a result, the FDA has directed doctors to reduce the recommended dosage of zolpidem for patients, particularly women, and it has suggested that doctors warn all of their patients about the risks of early morning drowsiness. In addition, medical facilities like the Mayo Clinic are phasing out their use of the drug for the sake of patient safety.
What if you are a victim of zolpidem and have an accident?
An early morning slip and fall, particularly as you try to navigate around a bathroom and bedroom as you get ready for work, is a very real possibility for anyone still drowsy from the side effects of a drug containing zolpidem.
If your injuries are significant, you may want to consult an attorney about the possibility of a medical malpractice lawsuit. It's possible that your prescriber, or the drug company, could be held responsible for your injuries if you weren't properly counseled about the early-morning dangers or your dosage wasn't adjusted. Click for more information about how a medical malpractice attorney can help you.