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Could your doctor be partly responsible for your slip and fall?

Insomnia is a common problem among Americans of all ages -- and prescription sleep aids are prescribed to millions of people.

If you're on a prescription sleep medication that contains zolpidem, the active ingredient in drugs like Ambien and Zolpimist, it may be important to discuss the issue with your slip-and-fall attorney. The sleep medication may have contributed toward your accident if you took it the night before your fall.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration has noted a sharp increase in the number of hospital visits due to the use of zolpidem -- in 2005, a little over 6,000 people went to the emergency room due to some problem with the drug. Just five years later, more than 64,000 people sought treatment at emergency rooms because of zolpidem.

While some of those emergency room visits were the result of adverse reactions to the drug itself, more were due to some of the drug's associated side effects, which include disorientation, confusion, daytime tiredness and going through routine functions without being entirely awake.

Doctors are not unaware of these problems. Studies have shown that women and those aged 65 or older are particularly susceptible to the drug's side-effects. However, any adult aged 45 or older has an increased risk of having a serious problem due to the effects of the drug -- particularly if he or she is also taking other medications that might interact with the zolpidem and increase its potency, like narcotic pain relievers or anti-anxiety medications.

As a result of the studies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has changed the recommended dosage for women and urged caution when prescribing the drug in higher doses for men as well. Otherwise, the drug may not be fully metabolized in the morning -- which could cause a patient to have trouble functioning normally.

The reason this is important to you if you've had a slip and fall after taking the drug is that your doctor could bear some potential liability for your injuries. If he or she didn't take into account your gender, age or other medications when prescribing the drugs, your doctor may have actually put you at an increased risk for a fall. That means he or she may share responsibility for your injuries with the property owner where you fell. You can learn more about medications and slip and falls from your attorney.

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