At the recent EMS State of the Sciences Conference (aka Gathering of Eagles), held in late February in Dallas, TX, there was one word on everyone’s lips: drugs, or more to the point, the lack thereof.
At that meeting, EMS World columnist James Augustine, MD, FACEP, gave a compelling presentation outlining the crisis situation in regard to supply and demand of certain pharmaceuticals. Medical directors are usually cool as cucumbers, so when they’re worried, you know things are bad.
This month’s exclusive cover report by EMS World Associate Editor John Erich shines a spotlight on this crisis and offers agencies a 20-step guide to surviving the shortage.
The National Association of EMTs recently conducted a survey on the drug shortage. Results showed that nearly 16% of respondents believed they’d seen patients suffer adverse outcomes due to lack of a needed medication and 22.5% of providers were approved to use meds past their expiration dates.
The national media has given a lot of coverage to this story with TV reports and newspaper articles outlining the challenges faced not only by EMS systems, but also by hospitals and the public who are dealing with a variety of drug shortages.
A 2011 survey by the American Hospital Association found that 82% of hospitals had delayed patient treatment as a result of a drug shortage and more than half were not always able to provide the patient with the recommended treatment. The shortage has impacted the entire pharmaceutical food chain, everything from cancer drugs and anesthetics to antibiotics and ADHD medications.
Unfortunately, there do not seem to be any viable solutions coming down the pipeline soon. In the meantime, communication and cooperation between all components of the healthcare system may be the best we can do.
We invite you to share how your agency is handling the crisis. E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.