Local EMS Crews Impacted by Constant Drug Shortages

By Stephanie Parkinson

April 3, 2013 Updated Apr 3, 2013 at 5:18 PM EDT

Auburn, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – Some local emergency crews are hitting road blocks as they run up against drug shortages.

"The outages and shortages change, sometimes on a daily basis,” said Randy Fox, Director, Dekalb EMS.

Fox says drug shortages have been a problem for years but now it's becoming the norm. He says the drugs that are in short supply change frequently. But Fox says the problem isn’t just with drugs that aren’t available. He says how some drugs are packaged is also changing and that can provide problems.

"What would normally come in a syringe would now be available in a vial,” said Fox.

That means instead of giving certain drugs through an IV they have to give it with a needle. That often means waiting longer for the drug to take effect.

"The ones that we use either work now, or don't. We won't give you something in the ambulance that is going to take an hour to take effect. We want it to happen now because it's usually a critical situation,” said Fox.

Another big problem with the drug shortages is the constant change in how emergency personnel do their jobs. Emergency crews are now often carrying more medicines on the ambulances to substitute the one drug they can't get. In addition they are constantly changing how they give medications.

"If it wasn't for e-mail and texting I think we'd have no ability to keep everybody aligned with all the changes as they go on,” said Fox.

Despite these obstacles Fox says he’s determined to make sure it doesn't impact patient care.

"We're still focused on prompt care, prompt transportation to the hospital,” said Fox.

Fox says this is a problem he doesn't foresee going away anytime soon but it's a problem he and his staff have learned to adapt to so they can continue to do their jobs.

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