Wash. Paramedics Concerned about Drug Shortage Crisis

Like many in the nation, Spokane medics need fentanyl


 
 

John Stucke | | Thursday, April 5, 2012


Paramedics in the city of Spokane provide medications to about 15,000 people every year.

Thousands more are treated each year in the county.

Spokane paramedics are concerned that nationwide medication shortages will keep them from providing the best emergency care, the Spokane Fire Department announced Wednesday.

Brian Schaeffer, assistant fire chief, said Wednesday that the causes of the shortages are many and affect different drugs at different times, but listed two drugs that provide critical relief and that have been more difficult to get recently.

One is fentanyl, a strong painkiller that paramedics administer after a traumatic accident. Another is Zofran, which helps people cope with nausea.

"We keep a diverse set of medications at the ready," Schaeffer said.

"Not being able to get them poses a problem."

If preferred drugs are not available, paramedics turn to second choices that are adequate but not as effective,Schaeffer said.

Without fentanyl, for example, paramedics may instead use morphine.

The cause of the shortage problem is varied, he said.

Pharmaceutical companies sometimes struggle to accurately gauge demand; some companies have had production and quality problems; others say the manufacture of drugs isn't profitable enough.

Sometimes available drugs are snapped up and hoarded by agencies attempting to offset their own shortages.

Schaeffer said patients are not in danger from the drug shortages, but the problems require paramedics to sometimes break with established protocols during an emergency.

"It's hard to say how this can get fixed," he said.



Copyright © 2013 LexisNexis, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Terms and Conditions | Privacy Policy


Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: News, EMS drug shortages, drug shortage

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS





 

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Simulation-Based Assessment Facilitates Learning & Enhances Clinical Judgment

Simulation is an educational tool that can be used to develop and refine clinical skills of the student in a controlled environment before they progress to becoming practicing clinicians.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

NYC September 11 Commemoration

Tolling of the bell begins the anniversary ceremony.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Wrong Fuel Cited in New Mexico Air Ambulance Crash

Plane received jet fuel instead of aviation fuel.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Wake County EMS PAT

Physical ability test demonstration.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

NYC Sept. 11 Anniversary

View images from the ceremony at Ground Zero.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

13th Anniversary of Sept. 11 Terror Attack

The nation remembers the fallen.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Building Explosion, Collapse in Paris Suburb

Death toll rises to eight after blast in Rosny-sous-Bois.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Braun Ambulances' EZ Door Forward

Helps to create a safer ambulance module.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


More Product Videos >