Hospitals and health systems try their best to anticipate and meet the demand for specific drugs. But drug shortages – whether due to outbreaks of specific illnesses or unanticipated supply bottlenecks – are a fact of life in the medical world.
An American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy (AJHP) survey released earlier this year showed that 98 percent of pharmacy directors “reported at least one drug shortage during the previous month.”
This year alone, U.S. hospitals have had to cope with a shortage of intravenous saline solutions, while hospitals in the Midwest this month have reported shortages of albuterol, a drug used in concentrated form to treat children with respiratory problems.
Drug shortages jeopardize the ability of hospitals and health systems to deliver medications to patients in a timely manner, if at all. Forty-three percent of AJHP survey respondents reported treatment delays related to drug shortages, while 21 percent said patients have been referred to and from other facilities.
“The potential for delayed patient treatments related to drug shortages are well documented in the literature,” said Ross Day, director of pharmacy for Novation, a healthcare supply chain services company with more than 100,000 members. “In addition