Background Drug shortages, widely reported by healthcare professionals and patients over recent years, are an increasing concern for hospital pharmacists.
Purpose The aim is to verify the impact of a large number of long-term medicines shortages on the daily work of a hospital pharmacist, in a university hospital (858 beds, 1500 medicines).
Material and methods Since 2013, the hospital pharmacist has identified the medicines shortages and determined the time of unavailability, which has resulted in the implementation of a method for managing medicine supply issues.
Results The number of medicines shortages was 197 (2013), 204 (2014), 260 (2015), 225 (2016), 251 (2017) and 196 (until September 2018). The duration of drug shortages is classified into minor (≤15 days), moderate (15 to 60 days) and major (≥60 days). The number of drug shortages with major duration is increasing over those years (37 in 2013, 53 in 2018). The procedure is based on: searching alternative(s) supported by a decision algorithm (one alternative for 53% of medicines shortages, two for 7% and three for 1%) and deploying a team of hospital pharmacists, pharmacy technicians and administrative personnel. Moreover, a spreadsheet including the results can easily be consulted to be informed about the proposed alternative. Finally, to secure a supply chain potentially at risk of alternative treatment, a communication platform concerning these changes has been developed and the multidisciplinary team is working in collaboration with the Medico-Pharmaceutical Committee to support clear communication to the other healthcare professionals.
Conclusion The implementation of a management structure for medicine supply issues, led by a hospital pharmacist, has become indispensable in dealing with the significant number and duration of current medicines shortages.
References and/or acknowledgements Time spent by Belgian hospital pharmacists on supply disruptions and drug shortages: an exploratory study.
E. De Weerdt and al. March 2017.
No conflict of interest.
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