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January 14, 1998

Benzodiazepine Use and Crash Risk in Older Patients

Author Affiliations

Margaret A.WinkerMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthorPhil B.FontanarosaMD, Senior EditorIndividualAuthor

JAMA. 1998;279(2):113-115. doi:10.1001/jama.279.2.113

To the Editor.—The report of Dr Hemmelgarn and colleagues1on benzodiazepine use among elderly Canadian drivers prompted an examination of such use by patients admitted to the R Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, Baltimore, Md, the primary regional adult trauma center for Maryland.

As part of the patient management protocol, a toxicology screen is obtained routinely for patients admitted directly from the injury scene. Elements of the screen include blood alcohol concentration (BAC) and the Syva EMIT (Syva Co, San Jose, Calif) qualitative serum test (an enzyme-mediated immunoassay technique) for all commonly prescribed benzodiazepines (including alprazolam and clonazepam). Toxicology information is stored in a confidential computerized clinical database.2Data were abstracted for the fiscal years 1984 through 1996.