Drug Shortages Forcing Ambulance Alternatives

7:50 AM, Apr 28, 2012   |    comments
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(File Photo)

ATLANTA---Georgia's Emergency responders are voicing strong concerns to the State's Department of Public Health that a shortage of critical drugs in ambulances could pose serious issues for patients.

"There is always a concern that we will have a shortage of medications," said Dennis Westover of Metro Atlanta Ambulance.

And EMS responders are not alone. Dr. Patrick O'Neal, Director of Health Protection for the Georgia Department of Public Health agrees.

"There definitely have been shortages. They are essentially moving shortages not the same from week to week and there is no predictability how long each one will last," he said.

Running short are critical drugs like Epinephrine to treat cardiac arrest, morphine for pain and specialty drugs for seizures. The key is finding substitutes quickly.

"So far we have been able to develop workarounds so if there is a shortage of one drug we are able to identify another drug that we can use as a substitute." Dr. O'Neal said.

"In some cases we have changed to a different brand, a generic brand of drug in order to perform our mission," Westover added.

Anticipating that alternatives may not always work:

"There may be a shortage of multiple drugs in the same family, so for that situation services should not discard any drugs that are going out of date. We want to selectively choose those drugs where there is not any likelihood of danger if they use an outdated drug," O'Neal added.

Whether there is a shortage or note, EMS personnel are assuring patients there will always be a drug to take care of their needs in Georgia ambulances.

 

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