Nursing faculty member co-chairs expert panel for new medication guidelines

November 10, 2015

Donna Fick, distinguished professor of nursing, professor of medicine, and co-director of the Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence at Penn State, co-chaired a panel of 13 experts convened by the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) to update and expand its “Beers Criteria for Potentially Inappropriate Medication Use in Older Adults,” one of the most frequently cited reference tools in the geriatrics field. The new criteria (the second such update by the AGS) were released in October.

The panel Fick co-chaired identified more than 40 potentially problematic medications and classes of medications, and organized them into five lists according to factors such as specific medical conditions and potentially harmful interactions. The experts reviewed more than 6,700 clinical trials and research studies from more than 20,000 articles published since the last update in 2012.

“The Beers Criteria offer guidance to clinicians and the public for talking about medications with risks that may outweigh benefits,” Fick said. “Tools like the Beers Criteria can do much to support medication use that is safe, effective, and responsive to each person’s health needs.”

Fick and her co-chair, Todd Semla, a clinical pharmacy specialist with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, also co-chaired the panel responsible for 2012 update, one year after the AGS assumed responsibility for the resource (which was developed by geriatrician Mark H. Beers and first published in 1991). The Beers Criteria have been adopted by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid as a Healthcare Effectiveness Data and Information Set (HEDIS) quality measure and incorporated into the electronic medical records at medical centers and HMOs worldwide.

In addition to inappropriate medication use, Fick’s research focuses on other topics related to health care of the elderly, including delirium in persons with dementia. In May, she was elected to a three-year term on the AGS board of directors. She has served as editor of the Journal of Gerontological Nursing since 2011. Fick is a Fellow of both the Gerontological Society of America and the American Academy of Nursing.

Last Updated November 11, 2015