The Beers Criteria was designed:
- To identify potentially inappropriate medications that should be avoided in many older adults
- To reduce adverse drug events and drug related problems, and to improve medication selection and medication use in older adults
- Designed for use in any clinical setting; also used as an educational, quality, and research tool
Many clinicians misunderstand the purpose of the criteria mistakenly believing all uses of the drugs listed are universally inappropriate. The American Geriatric Society created a work group to encourage optimal use of the criteria by providers, patients and to provide guidance on applying these principles in everyday practice.
- Remember the medicines are POTENTIALLY inappropriate – Beers Criteria medications merit special scrutiny but they should not be considered definitely inappropriate for all older adults
- Medication appropriateness is not black and white – read the rationale and recommendations
- Important to understand WHY medications are included in the list – the reason why a medication is listed can help guide you in how stringent you need to be in avoiding it.
- Optimal use of the Beers Criteria involves offering safer non-pharmacologic and pharmacologic alternatives
- Use the Beers Criteria as a starting point to review and discuss a patient’s entire medication regimen
- Think of the Beers Criteria as a warning light…it should make you stop and think – why is this patient taking this drug; is it truly needed? Are there safer and/or more effective alternatives?
- Don’t automatically defer to colleagues...jsut because another provider prescribed a Beers Criteria medication doesn’t make it safe and/or effective; use the opportunity to discuss with colleagues whether that medication is right for the patient
- The most important take home message is: Use clinical common sense – the Beers Criteria is intended to support not contradict common sense and good clinical care.
American Geriatrics Society 2015 Beers Criteria Update Expert Panel. American Geriatrics Society 2015 Updated Beers criteria for potentially inappropriate medication use in older adults. J Am Geriatr Soc 63:2227–2246, 2015.