NATIONAL DRUG SHORTAGES have become an issue of critical importance both to patient care and to our ability as pharmacists to do our jobs well. InterSection’s cover story on this growing crisis focuses on the complex reasons behind shortages and what ASHP is doing to mitigate the problem.
The numbers aren’t pretty. Two recent studies (one by ASHP and the University of Michigan Health System and one by the American Hospital Association) found that in 2010, there were 211 drug shortages, the highest number recorded in a single year. By comparison, 224 shortages were reported over the six-and-a-half-year period from January 1996 to June 2002. This is a troubling trend that carries real implications for our patients and our hospitals.
What would you do if an EF5 tornado tore through your hospital, shattering windows; knocking over medicine cabinets, computers, and patients’ beds; and cutting off your electricity? For a contingent of ASHP members who weathered the storms that swept through the Midwest and South this year, patient care became a very elemental thing: carrying patients to safety, administering first aid, comforting the wounded. You’ll want to read their stories as well as take a look at the special Web-only feature “In Their Own Words.”
Health care reform brings with it a number of new quality measurements in which pharmacists can get involved. At Fairview-Lutheran Hospitals (part of the Cleveland Clinic hospital system), Michael Hoying, R.Ph., M.S., director of pharmacy, is focusing on improving drug-related process-of-care measures for patients with congestive heart failure as well as patient satisfaction scores. Read about the outstanding results of his pharmacy team’s work.
Finally, you’ll want to check out how one rural health system has discovered a pathway to 24/7 pharmacy care. The advent of an innovative remote order entry system in the Louisiana State University Health Care Services health system ensures around-the-clock pharmacist involvement in the medication administration process.
I hope you enjoy this eye-opening issue of ASHP InterSections. Pharmacists are doing great things all across this wonderful country, and we love featuring them in the magazine. If you have a story you want to tell, be sure to drop us a line at firstname.lastname@example.org!
Stan Kent, M.S., FASHP
Editor’s Note: ASHP President Stan Kent, M.S., FASHP, is assistant vice president, NorthShore University Health System, Evanston, Ill.