Some Hospitals Consider Rationing

Drugs For Critically Ill In Short Supply
Michael O’Neal is a pharmacist. He purchases drugs for Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He often deals with drug shortages, but this one is bad. O’Neal is concerned about the availability of electrolytes. They are critical to a babies in neonatal intensive care and seriously ill adults.

Electrolytes are administered to a critically ill patient for nutritional support intravenously. They are given to patients who cannot get their nutrition any other way.

O’Neal said he’s concerned that as supplies shrink, measures will have to be taken.

“We are dangerously close, we believe, when we will have to ration care to the critically ill. I would say within days or weeks,” said O’Neal.

Vanessa Kumpf has her doctorate in pharmacy. She’s also a clinical specialist. She supervises patient nutritional support at Vanderbilt. She knows how important the correct cocktail of electrolyte drugs are to a patient.

“If one of the drugs is missing, it can be a very potentially life threatening situation. Your heart, your muscles, your lungs, every organ system has to have the right component of electrolytes,” said Kumpf.

There are so few makers of electrolytes that when one drug company, American Regent, stopped production because of quality issues, it sent supplies in a tail spin nationwide.

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