8 Statistics on Care Affected by Drug Shortages

Drug shortages continue to be an issue in the healthcare industry. While the overall number of drug shortages has decreased since 2010, the problem still incurred excess healthcare costs of up to $230 million a year in the U.S. for the past three years, according to a survey administered by Charlotte, N.C.-based Premier.  

The most common drug shortages include electrolytes, intravenous fluids, parenteral nutrition solutions and cardiovascular agents used to treat cardiac conditions.  

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Premier surveyed 124 of its member pharmacy experts to glean more insight on the continued effect of drug shortages over the past few years. Here are eight statistics from the survey.

1. Ninety percent of respondents indicated experiencing a drug shortage in the last six months that may have caused a medication error or safety issue for a patient.

2. However, the number of shortages does appear to be decreasing. The percentage of respondents experiencing six or more shortages fell from 53.5 percent in 2010 to 39.7 percent in 2013, while the percentage of respondents experiencing just one to five shortages increased from 35.5 percent in 2010 to 50.4 percent in 2013.

3. In the past six months, fewer drug shortages led to a delay in patient care. Thirty-five percent of respondents indicated no shortage that led to a delay in patient care, up from 15.9 percent in 2010.

4. Almost all respondents, 99 percent, said the shortage of a drug required them to purchase a more expensive generic alternative, the same rate as in 2010.

5. To mediate the drug shortage issue, 89.9 percent of respondents expanded their back-up inventory for "critically important drug categories."

6. Approximately 82 percent implemented rationing practices for limited drug supplies.

7. Just over half, 52.5 percent, implemented special safety measures for drugs not normally administered to avoid dosing errors.

8. Nineteen percent of respondents added staff members to help manage drug shortage issues.

More Articles on Drug Shortages:

FDA Works to Ease National Saline Shortage
Anesthetic Drugs Part of Drug Class With Highest Percentage of all Shortages, GAO Says
Survey: Patients Aware of Drug Shortages, Which Are Detrimental to Safety 

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