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Br Med J. 1977 Aug 20; 2(6085): 483–485.
PMCID: PMC1630875

Nocturnal femoral fracture and continuing widespread use of barbiturate hypnotics.


A survey of 390 patients aged over 65 with fractured femurs showed that nearly all the fractures that had been caused by nocturnal falls had occurred among the many patients who were still taking barbiturate hypnotics. Barbiturates were also strongly associated with a history of frequent falls. Barbiturates are still prescribed surprisingly often for the elderly. An analysis of 1622 elderly patients referred to a geriatric clinic in Nottingham showed that 41% were taking barbiturates in 1973. By 1976 this fugure had actually increased to 51%, despite the substantial campaign against barbiturate prescribing. This campaign thus appears to have made little or no impact on prescriptions for the elderly in at least one large town. The dangers of barbiturates may well need constant reemphasis.

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  • Rudd TN. Prescribing methods and iatrogenic situations in old age. Gerontol Clin (Basel) 1972;14(2):123–128. [PubMed]

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