Mark H. Beers

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Mark H. Beers
DiedFebruary 28, 2009 (aged 54–55)
Alma materTufts University
Known forBeers criteria
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of California, Los Angeles

Mark Howard Beers (c. 1954 – February 28, 2009) was an American geriatrician whose research on drug interactions among the elderly led to the creation of the eponymous Beers criteria, which lists prescription medications that may have deleterious side effects in older patients.


Born in Brooklyn, New York, Beers graduated from Tufts University and was awarded a degree in medicine in 1982 from the University of Vermont College of Medicine, and then performed his postgraduate medical training at Harvard University and Mount Sinai Hospital in New York City. He was appointed to the faculty of the University of California, Los Angeles, in 1987 as assistant professor of medicine and also served at the RAND Corporation from 1989 to 1992 as a senior natural scientist.[1]

Beers criteria[edit]

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.[1]

Using this research as a foundation, Beers prepared a list in 1991 called Beers criteria that specifies several groups of medications that can cause harm in elderly patients, such as antihistamines and muscle relaxants, with the list updated again in 2003.[1] Medical professionals use this list in reviewing case histories and in selecting medications for their patients.[1][2]

A study performed by Beers was published in the November 1990 issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that hospitals made mistakes 60% of the time in recording medications older patients were taking at the time they were admitted to the hospital, with three or more errors on 18% of the patient records reviewed in the study. He suggested that patients above age 65 should be asked a second time to confirm details of medications being taken around a day after admission to the hospital. Beers recommended that all people should carry a current list showing the name, dosage and frequency of all medications being taken.[3]

Merck Manuals[edit]

Beers was named as associate editor of Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, a reference book for medical professionals published by Merck & Co., and co-edited The Merck Manual of Geriatrics.[1] He edited the 2003 edition of the Merck Manual of Medical Information: Home Edition, which was designed for use by laypeople. In a review in The New York Times, Jane Brody said the book "could well be the most useful of all" of the plethora of medical guides aimed at the general public.[4]

He stepped down as editor in chief of The Merck Manuals in 2006 due to disability.[1]

Personal life[edit]

Beers was diagnosed with diabetes as a child. Both of his legs were amputated in the 1990s, after which he served as a volunteer counselor for amputees at Philadelphia's Magee Rehabilitation Hospital.[1]

Beers had lived in Miami Beach and Fire Island, New York. He died at age 54 on February 28, 2009, in Miami Beach, Florida, due to complications of diabetes and was survived by his husband, Stephen K. Urice, as well as by his mother and a sister.[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Pearce, Jeremy. "Mark H. Beers, 54, Expert on Drugs Given to Elderly, Dies", The New York Times, March 9, 2009. Accessed March 10, 2009.
  2. ^ Bloom, Marlene Z (May 2009). "Mark H. Beers: an appreciation". The Consultant pharmacist : the journal of the American Society of Consultant Pharmacists. United States. 24 (5): 366–70. doi:10.4140/TCP.n.2009.366. ISSN 0888-5109. PMID 19555145.
  3. ^ via Associated Press. "Wide Errors Found In Drug Histories", The New York Times, December 18, 1990. Accessed March 10, 2009.
  4. ^ Brody, Jane. "PERSONAL HEALTH; The Road to Wellness, Paved With 1,900 Pages", The New York Times, June 3, 2003. Accessed March 10, 2009.