In the next article this week, from North Carolina, we talk about medication shortages. Hospitals and EMS agencies are seeing drug shortages all over the country and I know we are experiencing them here in Maryland. One of the issues we have is trying to find ways to either replace the drugs we have with an alternative medication. While this article points out there is a Fentanyl shortage, Maryland uses morphine for primary pain management and we are substituting Fentanyl for Morphine because of Morphine shortages.
Giving Expired Medications to Patients
A lot of agencies are doing different things to get a hold of different medications or to handle the problem in different ways. In this article from North Carolina they can’t get enough Fentanyl and so they’re trying to get a hold morphine to fulfill that need and not always able do so. There are a lot of medications, 20 or 30 medications, listed in this article.
In this particular agency, they’re actually using expired medications and administering them to patients. In some cases, paramedics are asking the patient if it’s ok to treat them with a medication that’s two months out of date. It should still be okay. The seal hasn’t been broken and it’s only slightly out of date. Worst case scenario is that it may not have the full effect. It’s unlikely that it would have an adverse effect.
How Do You Handle EMS Med Shortages
I’d love to hear back from you about what’s going on in your communities. How are you addressing these problems? I think it’s interesting that in the midst of the health care debate, that the drug companies are suddenly running low on medications. Are they suddenly shifting their manufacturing process so that they’re not making some of these less profitable medications. Less profitable medications like the generics we carry on ambulances like Morphine, Furosemide, or Epinephrine.
In using their production facilities to produce the more expensive and more profitable other medications Pharmaceutical companies are diverting resources from life saving medications used by EMS. This is just a speculation on my part but it answers a lot of things about this issue.
Do you disagree? If so, you can shoot me an e-mail podmedic@Mac.com or you can get a hold of me on Twitter or Facebook and let me know what you guys are doing to deal with the medication shortages in your area.
Catch the rest of the news from this week’s show in Episode 293 – Rural Nevada Critical Care Innovator Pat Songer from the MedicCast.