The Dr. "Beers Criteria": Dangerous Drugs for the Elderly!
- Published on Monday, 27 February 2012 16:40
- Written by Stanton O. Berg
Note: I do not make specific or individual recommendations on treatments nor drug usage in any specific case. If you find the contents of this page applicable to your situation or your loved ones situation, make your decision based on a discussion with your own doctor or a competent doctor in the field of Geriatrics and Internal Medicine!
The Beers Criteria for identifying Dangerous Drugs for the Elderly was the product of Dr. Mark Howard Beers (1954-2009) Dr. Beers graduated from Tufts University and was awarded a degree in Medicine in 1982 from the University of Vermont College of Medicine. His post graduate work was done at Harvard University and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. In 1987 he was appointed to the University of California Los Angeles faculty as an assistant professor of Medicine. He also served at the Rand Corporation as a senior natural scientist from 1989-1992.He died at age 54 in 2009 as a victim of Diabetes complications.
The New York Times on March 9th, 2009 describes him as an “Expert on Drugs Given to Elderly.” ”…a geriatrician whose seminal research found that some widely used prescription drugs led to harmful and unnecessary side effects in the elderly…In the 1980’s Dr. Beers and others investigated the use of mood-altering drugs among geriatric patients and concluded:
“That psychoactive medications were probably being too freely prescribed.”
Dr. Beers had long been an advocate for:
“Thinking three times before picking up the pen to prescribe psychoactive drugs to elderly patients.”
”Dr. Beers and his fellow researchers made the medical establishment aware of drugs with:
“Side effect’s far more destructive than any potential therapeutic benefit”
Wikipedia describes his work: “Beers led a team from Harvard University that studied 850 residents of Boston-area nursing homes, looking at the medications they were prescribed and their case histories. The research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1988, found that many had symptoms of mental confusion and tremors that were caused by antidepressants, antipsychotics and sedatives that they had been prescribed.”
“Beers Criteria” was established: Using the Harvard research as a foundation, Dr. Beers prepared a list in 1991 called “Beers Criteria”.” The Beers Criteria (or Beers List) is a list of specific medications that are generally considered inappropriate when given to elderly people. For a wide variety of individual reasons, the medications listed tend to cause side effects in the elderly due to the physiologic changes of aging. The list was originally created by Dr. Beers while he was a part of a panel set up for that purpose. The criteria were created through consensus of a panel of experts (12) by using the Delphi method. The Criteria were originally published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1991and updated in 2003. The most recent updated was done in 2012”. The new revised update of 2012 is by the American Geriatrics Society. Click on the below link for their updated listing and discussions.
An alternative to Beers list has also been created, called the STOPP (Screening Tool for Older Persons of potentially inappropriate Prescriptions) criteria. The STOPP Criteria criticizes the Beers List because, when used as a simple checklist, (which is really what it is and what is should be used for) the Beers List neglects the patient's medical diagnosis, psychosocial status, and activities of daily living, drug approval (e.g., European Agency approved or FDA approved), and causality. This is documented in the Archives of Internal Medicine June, 2011. The criticisms are simply the considerations that one would normally expect to be supplied by the care team involved.
Note: In order to undrstand the current and latest research subsequent to the "Beers Criteria" of 1991 , 2003 and now the update of 2012, it is necessary to refer to the companion essays on this website that deal with all of the latest and current studies, trials and findings in the specific areas of Anti-depressants and anti-psychotic drugs that are subsequent to the Beers work::
See the companion essay on the inappropriate and dangerous use of anti-depression drugs in the treatment of Alzheimer's and dementia victims: There are no such drugs approved by the FDA.
See the companion essay on the dangerous use of anti-psychotic drugs on Alzheimer's and dementia victims...another class of drugs that has no FDA approval for such usage:
Note: Both my mother Ellen and my Wife June were victims of Alzheimer's and in addition were victims of improperly prescribed drugs. My mother Ellen was on antipsychotic drugs with the FDA Black box warnings...she died on 21 October 2007 as a result of the exact black box warning on the medication she was taking. My inquiries to her doctor about the drug was pending when she died. My wife June struggled with this terrible disease for almost 11 years when she gave up the battle and was called to her Heavenly home on 23 October 2008 - almost exactly one year later then my mother Ellen's death. During her long struggle with the disease she fell 8 times at the Alzheimer's faciltiy and became so fearful of walking that she was in a wheel chair for the remaining 2. 5 years of her life. June was on anti-depressants at the time of her falls. When I finally determined the cause of the falls, it was too late. I hope that the above information as well as the information on the other drug essays on this website will help others to avoid my mistakes and ignorance.
Note: For greater detail on June's life with Alzheimer's and her struggle with the disease of almost 11 years, please click on the below link for the article found on this website on the drop down menu on the top blue navigation strip on the "June and Alzheimer's" label:
June's obituary is found on the same blue navigation strip, under the tab/label "In Memoriam" on on the drop down menu: