Geriatric Quick Consult      Medications to Avoid in the Elderly      Don't #4

Don't prescribe diphenhydramine (Benadryl) for sleep in elderly patients.

Knowledge Action
Although diphenhydramine has sedative effects, it also has strong anticholinergic effects and should be avoided in the elderly for the treatment of insomnia.

Diphenhydramine can cause blurred vision, urinary retention, confusion, hallucinations, dry mouth,constipation, and is associated with delirium in hospitalized elderly patients

Many of these complicate and prolong hospital stays, and can begin a "vicious cycle" or "domino effect" of adverse events.

  • Do NOT order Benadryl for older patients in the hospital.
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