Drug Shortages Threaten Patient Safety, Blamed for Multiple Deaths

Patients often take for granted the fact that whatever prescription drug they need is usually readily available. Recently, however, hospitals in the United States have been experiencing shortages of many vital drugs. These drug shortages are responsible for at least 15 fatalities over the past 15 months.

The drugs in short-supply have primarily been common generic injected drugs. The shortage of these drugs can impact patient care by delaying surgeries, altering patient treatment plans, causing dosing and medication errors of alternate drugs and forcing less effective treatments to be administered.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is working with the drug industry, researchers and consumer groups to learn more about the issue and develop plans to prevent future shortages. The recent shortage has mainly been attributed to contamination and other problems in manufacturing. Other potential causes of shortages include companies abandoning the less profitable market of generic injected drugs, and thefts of drugs during shipment or from warehouses.

Lawmakers Attempting to Address Issue of Drug Shortages

The severity of this issue has caused federal legislators to take action. Current proposals in Congress would require drug manufacturers to notify the FDA of potential shortages as well as increase penalties for stealing drugs from trucks or warehouses.

Other strategies being discussed include stockpiling of important drugs, improved shipment tracking and allowing regular imports from Canada and other countries.

Steps Impacted Patients Can Take

Patients and their families who suffer injuries from drug shortages should consult with a medical malpractice attorney for advice about their rights and options. A lawyer can assist you in obtaining compensation for your injuries and suffering.