Nearly 90,000 U.S. adults visit the emergency room yearly for side effects of prescription psychiatric medications, and more than 10,000 of these visits are related to the sleep drug Ambien, according to a new study.
In fact, side effects of Ambien, along with generic forms of its drug zolpidem tartrate, were tied to more emergency room visits than those of any other psychiatric medication examined in the study.
Researchers analyzed information from 63 hospitals in the United States that collect data on emergency department visits for drug side effects, and then estimated how many visits would be expected for the whole U.S. population.
Between 2009 and 2011, there were an estimated 89,094 emergency room visits yearly for prescription psychiatric drug side effects, about half of which were among adults ages 19 to 44.
About 1 in 5 of these ER visits resulted in a person being hospitalized, the study found.
Sedatives and anti-anxiety drugs caused the most ER visits (30,707 visits), followed by antidepressants (25,377 visits) and antipsychotics (21,578 visits).
The side effects that lead to ER visits were: delirium, drowsiness, falls or head injuries (seen in people taking sedatives), vertigo and rash (seen in those taking antidepressants
) and movement disorders and spasticities (seen in people taking antipsychotics), according to the study.