Brian L Erstad

Brian L Erstad

Department Head, Pharmacy Practice-Science
Professor, Pharmaceutical Sciences
Member of the Graduate Faculty
Professor, BIO5 Institute
Primary Department
(520) 626-4289

Work Summary

Brian Erstad’s research interests pertain to critical care medicine with an emphasis on patient safety and related outcomes research.

Research Interest

Brian L. Erstad, PharmD, FCCM, is currently a tenured professor and head of the Department of Pharmacy Practice and Science. He is also a center investigator for the Center for Health Outcomes and PharmacoEconomics Research and a co-director for the Arizona Clinical and Translational Research Graduate Certificate Program. His clinical responsibilities are performed at Banner-University Medical Center Tucson.Dr. Erstad’s research interests pertain to critical care medicine with an emphasis on patient safety and related outcomes research. He has authored more than 150 peer-reviewed articles and book chapters.Dr. Erstad has served on the board of directors of the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists and on numerous committees and task forces for other organizations including AHRQ, USP, Society of Critical Care Medicine and the American College of Chest Physicians. He is currently an ad hoc member of the FDA’s Drug Safety and Risk Management Advisory Committee, a steering committee member of the United States Critical Illness and Injury Trials (USCIIT) Group, and treasurer of the American College of Clinical Pharmacy.


Patanwala, A. E., & Erstad, B. L. (2014). Comparison of Dexmedetomidine Versus Propofol on Hospital Costs and Length of Stay. Journal of intensive care medicine.

The objective of this evaluation was to compare total hospital costs and length of stay of critically ill patients who received dexmedetomidine versus propofol for sedation in the intensive care unit (ICU).

Erstad, B., Patanwala, A. E., Stahle, S. A., Sakles, J. C., & Erstad, B. L. (2011). Comparison of succinylcholine and rocuronium for first-attempt intubation success in the emergency department. Academic emergency medicine : official journal of the Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, 18(1).

The objective was to determine the effect of paralytic type and dose on first-attempt rapid sequence intubation (RSI) success in the emergency department (ED).

Mularski, R. A., Puntillo, K., Varkey, B., Erstad, B. L., Grap, M. J., Gilbert, H. C., Denise, L. i., Medina, J., Pasero, C., & Sessler, C. N. (2009). Pain management within the palliative and end-of-life care experience in the ICU. Chest, 135(5), 1360-1369.

PMID: 19420206;Abstract:

In the ICU where critically ill patients receive aggressive life-sustaining interventions, suffering is common and death can be expected in up to 20% of patients. High-quality pain management is a part of optimal therapy and requires knowledge and skill in pharmacologic, behavioral, social, and communication strategies grounded in the holistic palliative care approach. This contemporary review article focuses on pain management within comprehensive palliative and end-of-life care. These key points emerge from the transdisciplinary review: (1) all ICU patients experience opportunities for discomfort and suffering regardless of prognosis or goals, thus palliative therapy is a requisite approach for every patient, of which pain management is a principal component; (2) for those dying in the ICU, an explicit shift in management to comfort-oriented care is often warranted and may be the most beneficial treatment the health-care team can offer; (3) communication and cultural sensitivity with the patient-family unit is a principal approach for optimizing palliative and pain management as part of comprehensive ICU care; (4) ethical and legal misconceptions about the escalation of opiates and other palliative therapies should not be barriers to appropriate care, provided the intention of treatment is alleviation of pain and suffering; (5) standardized instruments, performance measurement, and care delivery aids are effective strategies for decreasing variability and improving palliative care in the complex ICU setting; and (6) comprehensive palliative care should addresses family and caregiver stress associated with caring for critically ill patients and anticipated suffering and loss. Copyright © 2009 American College of Chest Physicians.

Erstad, B. L. (2010). Developing models for pharmacy practice [1]. American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy, 67(1), 23-24.
Erstad, B. L. (1994). A rational approach to the management of acute pain states (part 1). Hospital Formulary, 29(7), 516-525.


Several classes of drugs can be used in the management of acute pain: acetaminophen, salicylates, miscellaneous mild analgesics, nonsteroidal anti- inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), and opioids. In part one of this two-part series, agents used to treat mild pain states will be explored. For this condition, acetaminophen and aspirin remain the standards of comparison. These agents are inexpensive and their adverse effect profiles are well described. For patients unable to take acetaminophen or aspirin, a variety of NSAIDs are available. This article reviews the advantages and disadvantages of the various agents and their role within the analgesic armamentarium for management of mild, acute pain states. Next month, in part two of this two- part series, the use of opioids will be explored.