Medicine shortages are a “major problem” in European hospitals


  • Mary Corcoran
  • Univadis Medical News
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Findings from a new survey show European hospitals are experiencing significant medicine shortages, with more than nine in 10 respondents reporting shortages to be an issue in terms of delivering the best care to patients. 

The 2018 Medicines Shortages in European Hospitals Survey by the European Association of Hospital Pharmacists (EAHP) surveyed 1,666 hospital pharmacists from 38 countries on the current nature of medicines shortages problems and the most common types of shortages, among other issues. 

Three-quarters of respondents said they experienced medicines shortages at least weekly, with the mean duration of a typical shortage being 2.2 months. Antimicrobial agents, vaccinations and oncology medicines were most frequently reported as being in short supply. Six countries reported anaesthetic agents as the most common area of shortage. 

Over half of the respondents said patient care had been delayed as a consequence of medication shortages and there were 12 reports of death as a result of medication shortages. 

The respondents noted that shortages also had the ability to create conflict between pharmacists, doctors and nurses, with one respondent from Austria noting; “Mostly shortages don’t reach the patient, but doctors and the nurses aren’t satisfied with this situation. They accuse the pharmacists that they are not able to organise medicines.”