Managing Medication Shortages in the ASC
These shortages are a result of several interrelated forces, including:
- Increased regulatory enforcement, causing manufacturing closures/delays and additional recalls;
- Worldwide sourcing of raw materials, creating competition for specific substances and consequently, occasional shortages; and
- Consolidation and elimination of product lines, decreasing the quantity of manufacturers that are making certain medications.
While these circumstances cannot be helped by you or your consultant pharmacist, the good news is that you can take action to prevent medication shortages from affecting your patients.
Take a Systematic Approach
Medication shortages present an ongoing risk to patient care. Therefore, it’s a matter of safety to have proactive strategies in place to handle these shortages. Follow the tips below to help your organization avoid common medication shortage pitfalls.
- Stay informed. See current and past medication shortages by visiting the ASHP website.
- Ensure you have more than one wholesaler supplier. While you can maintain one primary source, ensure you have several other credentialed sources to reach out to for difficult-to-find medications.
- Maintain good relationships with local ambulatory surgery centers (ASCs). Chances are, if you are experiencing a shortage, another ASC may have the drug(s) you need. When working with other centers, be sure to follow the Drug Quality and Security Act (DQSA) and track recalls.
- Look for clinical alternatives. For instance, look for Dextrose 50 percent vials when prefilled syringes are on backorder, or switch to famotidine when ranitidine is on backorder. When using alternatives, be sure to find out if additional syringes are necessary and communicate whether the alternative medications need to be refrigerated or can be placed in the anesthesia cart.
- Keep diligent records. Have a form or spreadsheet where you list all medications currently on shortage along with those you have resolved. Not only will this help you keep track of shortages, but it will also come in handy with surveyors who may want to see such tracking.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Hopefully, this provides a roadmap for your center to address medication shortages in a systematic manner that prevents patients from being affected. These proactive strategies can support you in having the necessary medications and communication methods in place to provide excellent care when facing shortages.
LEARN MORE: Gregory Tertes facilitated a webinar on the topic of Medication Shortages and How to Handle them on Monday, November 25th. Click to view the recording and download the slides.