In a retrospective cohort of 67,929 patients1, mean age 80.9 years, with injuries (of mixed severity, via different modes – whether from falls or other means), it was found that 4.9% who were previously dispensed opioids had the injury because of a fall, compared to 1.5% who were dispensed opioids, who had an injury because of a reason other than a fall. The injuries were serious with over 50% of the 67,929 requiring surgery.
This finding was independent of the use of antidepressants or benzodiazepines during the previous two weeks. The numbers needed to harm was 29 prescriptions to be associated with a fall-related trauma.
Prescribers need to be cautious of prescribing opioids in older adults at risk of falls.