ASA survey shows more than 90% of respondents experience anesthesia drug shortage

The American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) today announced the findings from its nationwide Drug Shortages Survey. Results showed that more than 90 percent of anesthesiologist respondents are currently experiencing a shortage of at least one anesthetic. Within the last year, more than 98 percent of respondents experienced an anesthesia drug shortage.

Drug shortages of anesthetics are widespread across the country. Survey respondents from 48 states participated in the survey and reported a current or recent shortage of several anesthesia drugs, including:
•Neostigmine (56.9 percent)
•Thiopental (54.7 percent)
•Succinylcholine (47.6 percent)
•Propofol (40.3 percent)
•Glycopyrrolate (17.3 percent)

Alternative Solutions
More than 91 percent of respondents have been able to work through the drug shortages by using alternative medications. Over half have found it necessary to alter care for patients in some way. Also, approximately 10 percent of respondents have postponed or cancelled procedures as a result of the shortages.

Nearly half of patients who underwent procedures during a drug shortage experienced less than optimal outcomes such as an increased frequency of nausea after surgery from the use of alternative drugs. Longer operating room and recovery times and increasing health care costs for patients and insurers also were reported in nearly half of patients who underwent procedures during a shortage.

Since participating in a Drug Shortages Summit in November 2010, ASA has been working with the FDA, workgroups identified by the Summit, and professional organizations to find ways to reduce the impact of the shortages and maintain high value and safe patient care. ASA supports the introduction of S. 296, the "Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act," by Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) and the request for a Government Accountability Office investigation into the shortages by Senator Blumenthal (D-CT).

"The drug shortages are having a profound impact on anesthesiologists and patients each day," said ASA President Mark A. Warner, M.D. "It is important for patients who are about to undergo anesthesia to have a physician who practices anesthesiology involved in their care; anesthesiologists are specifically trained to provide safe care despite the need to use alternative drugs when others are in short supply or not available."


 American Society of Anesthesiologists


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