Main occupation: Clinical pharmacologist
Years in clinical practice: 16
Qualifications: BScMed (Hons), MBBS (Hons), FRACP, PhD
Associate Professor Sarah Hilmer is a clinical pharmacologist and geriatrician at a hospital in Sydney. As well as seeing patients, she undertakes research and teaches at a university.
Most of her patients are over 85 years of age. They have complicated medication regimens involving eight or more medicines and are confused or are having falls. Associate Professor Hilmer also sees patients of all ages for problems due to their medicines.
Associate Professor Hilmer talks about what people can expect from a hospital visit in relation to their medicines: the discussions they will have, the information they will receive and what will happen when they go home. She talks about what people can do to avoid having to go to hospital because of their medicines. She describes the kinds of things people need to keep in mind and what they should look out for if they take a number of medicines. She also defines terms such as ‘polypharmacy’, ‘drug–drug interactions’ and ‘drug–disease interactions’.
Associate Professor Hilmer explains why a medicine that a patient has been on for a long time and was told they would have to take ‘forever’ might need to be changed. She describes how stopping a medicine may be the best way to manage a patient’s condition and that this does not mean their doctor is ‘giving up on them’.