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Ann Pharmacother. 2012 Sep;46(9):1188-92. doi: 10.1345/aph.1Q689. Epub 2012 Aug 7.

Medication use and associated risk of falling in a geriatric outpatient population.

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Department of Pharmacy Services, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, SC, USA.



Studies have shown that approximately one third of community-dwelling people aged 65 years and older will experience a fall each year. Many studies indicate that use of multiple medications may put patients at an increased risk of falling, but few studies have been conducted to correlate the number of medications with the risk of falls.


To determine the medications most frequently used in patients aged 65 years or older who have experienced a fall within the past year, with particular attention to type or number of medications most commonly associated with multiple falls or a fall with injury.


We conducted a chart review in an outpatient internal medicine clinic over a 13-month period. A total of 118 patients 65 years of age or older who were taking 4 or more medications and had experienced at least 1 fall in the previous 12 months were included. Data relating to sex, age, race, diagnoses, medications, and number and type of falls were obtained during the chart review. The primary end point of the study was number and type of medications most commonly used in patients experiencing a fall.


A total of 116 patients were examined for trends in fall risk. A logistic regression model and receiver operating characteristic curve demonstrated significant fall risk with the addition of medications, with patients experiencing a 14% increase in fall risk with the addition of each medication beyond a 4-medication regimen (OR 1.14; 95% CI 1.02 to 1.27; p = 0.027).


The addition of medications is associated with a significant increase in risk of falls in elderly patients, regardless of drug class. Further studies are needed to assess the possible increased risk of falls with increasing number of medications.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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