Saturday, March 30, 2019

Survey: All hospital pharmacists suffered drug shortages in the preceding year & 69.2% had more than 50 shortages; 92.4% had about 1 month from notice to shortage

Prevalence and Severity of Rationing During Drug Shortages: A National Survey of Health System Pharmacists. Andrew Hantel et al. JAMA Intern Med. March 25, 2019. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2018.8251

Abstract: Hospital medication shortages in the United States are associated with decreased quality and/or quantity of life.1,2 In severe cases, shortages require clinicians to decide which patients receive needed medications and which do not (ie, rationing drugs between patients).3 Previous studies have proposed ethical allocation frameworks and assessed the associations of specific shortages.2,4,5 We conducted a national survey of hospital pharmacy managers to investigate current drug allocation and rationing practices of US hospitals during shortages.

The study’s 719 respondents (response rate, 65.0%,based on unique listserv activity during the time of survey availability) comprised 5.7% of total PPM membership. The question completion rate was 95.4%. Respondents were demographically similar to the overall American Society of Health-System Pharmacists PPM membership. The median age was 44 years (interquartile range, 35-57 years), with 311 (43.2%) self-reporting as women and 381 (53.0%) as men; the median years in practice was 10 (interquartile range, 10-32 years). A total of 453 (63.0%) reported practicing in community hospitals,whereas 143 (19.9%) and 123 (17.1%) reported practicing in academic or academically affiliated hospitals, respectively. Respondents were from hospitals with fewer than 100 (109 [15.2%]), 100 to 199 (139 [19.3%]), 200 to 299 (111 [15.4%]), 300 to 399 (115 [15.9%]), or more than 400 beds (245 [34.0%]). All respondents reported experiencing drug shortages in the preceding year and 498 respondents (69.2%) reported more than 50 shortages. Most respondents (664 [92.4%]) reportedan average of less than 1 month from notification to active shortage, 250 (34.9%) described having no administrative mechanism to respond to shortages, 96 (13.3%) reported a standing committee that included physicians, and 20 (2.8%)included an ethicist. The Table describes the frequency of medication shortages and the strategies used to mitigate and manage them. Notably, medication hoarding was reported by 584 respondents (81.3%). More than one-third of respondents (247 [34.4%]) reportedan episode of rationing within the past year. Rationing occurred more frequently at academic hospitals (47.7% vs 25.5%;P= .01) and academically affiliated hospitals (45.4% vs 25.5%;P=.02) compared with community hospitals and in hospitals with more than 300 beds compared with those with fewer beds (46.1% vs19.7%;P< .01). During rationing, 128 respondents (51.8%) reported that the treating team alone decided on allocation meth-ods, whereas 119(48.2%) used committees, 12 (4.9%) of which included an ethicist. Only 89 patients(36.0%) were informed that their care included rationing.

Pharmacy practice managers reported frequent medication shortages with variation in allocation and rationing methods during shortages. Many respondents described little forewarning of upcoming shortages and a lack of administrative mechanisms with which to guide medication conser-vation, and although discouraged, hoarding was widespread.3,4 Rationing was prevalent, particularly in large hospitals and academic or academically affiliated hospitals. Most respondents noted that rationing decisions were generally made by the care team without the involvement of hospital committees or ethicists. Disclosing rationing to patients was not common. This survey of PPMs suggests that more systematic approaches areneeded to address the common problem of drug shortages and consequent drug rationing. Progress in this area would be furthered by research to better understand patient and physician preferences for disclosure and the association of different management strategies with the outcomes of high-risk groups.

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