Drug shortages are a concern nationwide and have appeared to be a widespread issue for the last several years. Because medication shortages are an ongoing issue, a survey of pharmacy directors was taken that focuses on how drug shortages affect patient care.
The results of this study were published in the November/December 2013 issue of the Journal of Managed Care Pharmacy. The 193 pharmacy directors who took this survey believe that the drug shortages have led to the following issues:
- Medication errors
- Adverse events
- Patients complaints
- Increase institutional costs
The survey was conducted via email from October 2–23 of 2012. Pharmacy directors who are members of the MedAssets Pharmacy Group Purchasing Organization and who volunteered to take this survey answered multiple choice questions about the effects of drug shortages. Most of those who responded stated the common drugs they were short on were anesthetics, antiemetics, and electrolytes/total parenteral nutrition.
The results of the survey are as follows:
- 174 pharmacy directors indicated that possible or probable negative events related to drug shortages had occurred. (41.4 percent of those surveyed reported one to five adverse events had occurred, while 42 percent reported no such events had occurred).
- 183 pharmacy directors indicated that medication errors. (53 percent of those surveyed indicated that one to ten errors had occurred, while 2.2 percent reported that over 30 medication errors had occurred). Omission, dispensing, or administering the wrong dose and filling or administering the wrong medication were the most common errors reported on the survey.
- 134 pharmacy directors reported that a delay in care occurred due to drug shortages. (56.5 percent reported one to five delays occurred, 22.1 percent indicated six to ten delays happened, and 21.4 percent stated over ten delays in patient care occurred as a result of drug shortages).
- 60 pharmacy directors reported that care was cancelled due to medication shortages. (88.3 percent indicated one to ten cases of cancelled procedures, surgeries, chemotherapy, or other treatments occurred due to drug shortages).
- Costs from drug shortages have risen, according to survey respondents. (73 percent stated costs were greater than $100,000. Almost 75 percent of those surveyed reported increased costs due to drug shortages, and over one-third of survey respondents reported that half of an extra full-time employee was needed to manage drug shortages
Unfortunately, the safety of patients could be affected due to drug shortages. Not only will shortages cause patients to not receive the drug they need, but they may get a different medication to replace the drug in shortage—possibly causing an adverse reaction. Sadly, when the right drug cannot be found, alternative medication is considered, which sometimes results in delayed care or cancellation of treatment.
Obviously there is a demand for medicine, and the reality is that drug shortages can negatively impact patients. Please feel free to share this article with others you know and love on Facebook, so they can be aware of the impact of drug shortages in our nation.