Ethical Dilemmas and Process Problems: Be Ready for Drug Shortages

September 4, 2018 | Strategic Insights for Ambulatory Care


​Drug shortages happen, and healthcare organizations would be wise to prepare for them to the best of their ability, according to a study published in the July 2018 issue of the American Journal of Health-System Pharmacy. One key step is to create infrastructure to manage or resolve the various issues that may arise during a drug shortage, according to the study. At a minimum, the authors suggest creating a multidisciplinary drug product shortage team and resource allocation committee. Such committees should be prepared and enabled to address operational issues, such as data gathering and monitoring, communications, buying of alternative drugs, decisions on conserving or rationing drugs that are in short supply, and making necessary changes to healthcare technology use, according to the study. Information gathering, teamwork, the ability to make changes nimbly, and transparent communication within the organization and with patients are the keys to successfully facing a drug shortage with the minimum amount of interruption to patient safety standards and quality of care, the study's authors say.

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