Survey details impacts of supply shortages

Oct. 17, 2023
ECRI and the Institute for Safe Medication Practice recently released the results of a survey on medication, medical supply, and medical equipment shortages

According to an Oct. 13 press release, a new survey conducted by ECRI, and independent, nonprofit safety organization, and the Institute for Safe Medication Practice (ISMP) highlights the continuing national medication, medical supply, and medical equipment shortages that are harming patients.

The press release states that “According to the two groups, the survey reveals that providing appropriate care is becoming increasingly challenging, leading to instances of unsafe practices, compromised care, and harmful, otherwise avoidable patient safety incidents.”

The survey was conducted in July 2023. The survey polled approximately 200 individuals. Respondents included pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, procurement specialists, physicians, and nurses working in community, teaching, pediatric, and cancer care hospitals, among other care locations. The survey was conducted in July 2023.

The release added, “Sixty percent of respondents reported shortages of more than 20 drugs, single-use supplies, or other medical devices during the six months prior to the survey. Respondents say care quality has been broadly affected by the shortages, including in surgery and anesthetics (74%), emergency care (64%), pain management (52%), cardiology (45%), hematology and oncology (44%), infectious diseases (39%), and obstetrics and gynecology (37%).”

The majority of respondents said that the shortages have compromised patient care, according to the press release. Additionally, half of the respondents said that shortages have delayed patient treatments and one-third said they weren’t able to provide optimal drugs or treatments. One-fourth of respondents reported that they know of at least one error related to a drug, supply, or device shortage.

The impact of shortages that are reported in the survey include interruption or delays in chemotherapy regimens, administration of more opioid analgesia due to lidocaine shortages, dissemination of incorrect medication dosage instructions to patients and postponement or cancellation of surgeries.

Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and CEO of ECRI was quoted in the release saying, “While medication and supply shortages have been widely reported across healthcare, we now know with certainty that these shortages are causing preventable harm and have the potential to cause even more if they are not addressed soon. There are strategies hospitals can use to reduce the impact of shortages, but they are a deviation from standard practice and resource-intensive—two characteristics that themselves can increase the likelihood of preventable harm.”

ERCI has the press release.