Drug shortages cost hospitals $359M in labor costs, survey finds

Drug shortages are costing U.S. hospitals at least $359 million a year on labor costs alone, a new study from Vizient suggests

For its study, Vizient's Drug Shortages Task Force surveyed 365 pharmacy leaders at hospitals across the U.S. to identify and quantify the labor-related operational and financial effects of drug shortages on its member health systems and hospitals. 

Five key findings:

1. Together, hospitals spent an average of 8.6 million hours of additional labor annually to manage drug shortages. This included the labor associated with finding supply of various drugs and implementing mitigation strategies..

2. During the six-month period from July through December 2018, more than half (64 percent) of the respondents said they had managed at least 20 drug shortages.

3. On average, buyers, pharmacists and pharmacy techs spent the most time managing drug shortages, often dedicating more than a day's work each week dealing with drug shortages. 

4. Buyers spent an average of 12 hours per week managing shortages; pharmacists spent an average of 9.3 hours a week on drug shortages; and pharmacy techs spent about 7.6 hours on average.

5. Thirty-eight percent of respondents said that at least one of the medication errors they recorded from July 2018-December 2018 were related to a drug shortage.

Access the full report here. 

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