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Understanding the Impact of Drug Shortages

November 06, 2019

By Julie Gould

Editorial board member Matthew Grissinger, RPh, FISMP, FASCP, discusses drug shortages and their impact on the entire care team, and also provides a 5-year prediction on the future of health care.

Podcast Transcript:

At AMCP Nexus we spoke with Pharmacy Learning Network editorial board member Matthew Grissinger, RPh, FISMP, FASCP. He discussed drug shortages and their impact, and also gave a 5-year prediction on the future of health care.  

Matt, please tell us a little about yourself. 

MG: I am the director of Error Reporting Programs at the Institute for Safe Medication Practices.

Great. Can you tell us what you presented on and why it's important?

MG: I presented at AMCP and the title of the presentation was "How Continued Drug Shortages Compromise Patient Care." The intent of the presentation, especially for this audience, is to have them appreciate the real impact of drug shortages on health care.

When I say on health care, that means the impact to doctors, pharmacists, nurses, patients, and managed care pharmacists, and to make them realize that when there are drug shortages, the problem isn't simply, "I can't get the drug."

The problem impacts many people, whether a doctor's ordering drugs, and they have to change clinical decisions based on a sudden shortage of a drug, to changes in order entry systems, protocols, guidelines, labels, and drug databases that, when there's a change in a drug, it has a tremendous impact on health care.

To the point where, I can tell you, in some hospitals, they have a designated one FTE person handling drug shortages all day.

What do you hope health care professionals will take away?

MG: I'm hoping they take away the importance of being as proactive as possible when dealing with drug shortages. That means, instead of waiting until a patient all of a sudden can't get their drug, what can we do about it a month ahead of time?

Can we foreshadow, or just knowing by going to the FDA's website or ASHP's drug shortage website, to see, "Oh, my god. This drug is going to be on short order or is going to be out within a month," and making decisions about a patient's therapy now, versus waiting to see, "Oh, well, what are we going to do next?"

I can't stress enough again, right now, like typical healthcare, we're very reactive ‑‑ something goes wrong, and then we fix it ‑‑ versus saying, "Uh‑oh. We're going to have a problem here." What can we do now, so that when that change happens, we can just flow with the process?

Can you give a five‑year outlook on health care? How do you think health care will change over the next five years?

MG: I would say health care will change over the next five years, now coming from my perspective, technology has really exploded in the past 10 years in health care. Doctors are doing order entry now, which wasn't happening 15 years ago.

There's a lot of devices for giving medications and making medications. I think that'll continue to explode. Right now, there's a lot of growing pains with technology, especially order entry systems throughout the country.

I'm hoping, in five years, that has gotten better than that. I see a lot of changes, technologically speaking, to improve med safety or to assist people in making sure people get the right medications.

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