Psychiatric Drugs Cause Nearly 90,000 ER Visits Annually

Bad reactions to psychiatric drugs result in nearly 90,000 emergency room visits each year by U.S. adults, with anti-anxiety medicines and sedatives among the most common culprits, a study suggests.

A drug used in some popular sleeping pills was among the most commonly involved sedatives, especially in adults aged 65 and older.

Most of the visits were for troublesome side effects or accidental overdoses and almost 1 in 5 resulted in hospitalization.

The results come from an analysis of 2009-2011 medical records from 63 hospitals that participate in a nationally representative government surveillance project. The study was published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry.

Overall, the sedative zolpidem tartrate, contained in Ambien and some other sleeping pills, was involved in almost 12 percent of all ER visits and in 1 out of 5 visits for older adults.