Wisconsin hospitals plagued by persistent drug shortages

Posted: 8:22 PM, Jul 19, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-19 21:22:55-04
Wisconsin hospitals plagued by persistent drug shortages

Hospitals in states including Wisconsin are dealing with medication shortages, forcing them to work with limited resources.

A variety of drug shortages over the last six months have the state's hospitals seeking alternatives, Wisconsin Public Radio reported.

UW Heath has been able to weather the shortage without any impact on patients, said Philip Trapskin, program director for medication use safety and innovation at UW Hospitals and Clinics.

"We're always kind of chasing our tail," Trapskin said. "One product goes short so you switch to another but by the time you're caught up with that you have to switch to the other and vice versa."

Bellin Health in Green Bay is short on medications, including local anesthetics, painkillers, antimicrobials, said Laura Alar, the pharmacy's director. While it's not unusual to have weekly shortages, it's not always possible to substitute a pill or shot for medication delivered intravenously, Alar said.

"There are some antimicrobials that are only available IV (intravenously) and there are some anesthetics available IV, so route interchanges are possible but not always allowable," said Alar.

The shortages come as communities face a nationwide opioid epidemic.

"If a patient for example is allergic to morphine and they've gone to hydromorphone and that's not available, then the only alternative is fentanyl and based on a patient's history, if they have abused opioids, you wouldn't want to (use) a more potent opioid," Alar said.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently announced it would create a task force addressing drug shortages that peaked in 2011 and continue to be a persistent problem.