Geriatric specialist discusses medication safety

SPOKANE, Wash. – Pharmacist Nicole Brandt spoke with students about the field of geriatric pharmacy and medication use during her presentation for the Washington State University College of Pharmacy’s Preparing for Your Career in Pharmacy seminar series on January 28.

Brandt was the fifth speaker of the 2015-16 academic year for the seminar series, which exposes students to career opportunities in pharmacy and introduces them to leaders in those fields.

brandt with 4 colleagues

The senior-citizen population has a high usage of prescription drugs, many of which are high-risk medications, said Brandt.

She discussed recent data showing that seniors are being hospitalized at a high rate from adverse drug effects. High-risk medications are causing preventable emergency room admittance, said Brandt.

She mentioned multiple methods for health care providers to identify inappropriate prescribing in senior populations. One of these methods is the Beers Criteria. This list includes concerns for certain drugs, renal dosing and side effects of drug-drug interactions. Pharmacists can use this criteria not only to look at drug safety, but also to see how certain drugs are impacting patients, said Brandt.

“Pharmacists are in a critical position to improve medication safety for older adults,” said Brandt.

Things are also being done at the legislative level to improve this problem. Brandt has personally advocated at the state and national level to improve health policies for the senior population.

Brandt is a professor and director of educational and clinical programs at the University of Maryland School of Pharmacy. Brandt has created training opportunities and projects to improve medication management for seniors. She is also the current president of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists.

The WSU pharmacy career seminars are funded through the Dean’s Fund for Excellence and the college’s community partner, the Spokane Teachers Credit Union. For information on participating in the career seminar series, or to contribute to the Dean’s Fund for Excellence to help expose WSU student pharmacists to thought-leaders and industry innovators, contact the College of Pharmacy advancement office at or 509-358-7651.