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Short report
Best practice standards for managing medicines shortages in hospitals
  1. David Stead
  1. Correspondence to Mr David Stead, Pharmacy Department, Bristol Royal Infirmary, Marlborough Street Bristol BS2 8HW, UK; David.Stead{at}UHBristol.nhs.uk

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Introduction

Medicines shortages can adversely affect ideal drug therapy, delay medical procedures and result in medication errors. Managing drug product shortages can be extremely complex and pharmacy procurement and clinical staff are increasingly challenged in managing the effects of shortages.

The University College Hospitals ‘Solutions’ website (now no longer operational) regularly reported between 120 and 150 current shortages.

Information from the American Society of Heath Systems Pharmacists Shortages website, run by the University of Utah Hospital indicates monitoring around 250 shortages on a regular basis.

Recent data from Guys and St Thomas's National Health Service (NHS) Trust indicates an average of 150 lines per month not delivered when expected, all of which had to be followed up by pharmacy staff.

In 2011 a poll of a number of NHS hospitals indicated that the cost of pharmacy staff time in resolving shortages was around £3–5 million/year. This short report provides readers with guidance that has been issued in the UK. It may provide a model for other economies who are facing a similar problem with shortages. The guidance document is published with the permission of the sponsoring authorities.

Best practice standards for managing medicines shortages in secondary care in England—jointly published by the NHS and Royal Pharmaceutical Society

Overview

Medicines shortages are occurring more frequently in the UK and globally for a variety of reasons. Although some of these have simple solutions, an increasingly large number have the potential to cause serious risk to patients. There is currently no national guidance to the NHS on how to manage shortages at a local level.

These standards are designed to provide advice to NHS …

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