Anesthesia Drug Shortages and You




Drug shortages of anesthetics are currently impacting anesthesiologists and patients each day. While shortages can result in delayed or canceled medical treatments and procedures, physician anesthesiologists are working to ensure patients remain safe and receive quality care.

Many anesthesiologists have been able to work through the drug shortages by using alternative medications. However, some complications can occur if the first choice of medication is unavailable. To help address this, ASA participated in a Drug Shortage Summit in November 2010 to coordinate efforts with leaders from other key health care organizations. ASA plans to continue to work with workgroups identified by the Summit to develop recommendations to address the shortages.

Since the summit, several steps have been taken to develop solutions including the introduction of S.296, the “Preserving Access to Life-Saving Medications Act,” by Senator Klobuchar (D-MN) and the request for a Government Accountability Office investigation into the shortages by Senator Blumenthal (D-CT).

When drug shortages occur, having a physician involved in your care who understands the ways to work around the shortages is important. If you are concerned about the shortages, please meet with your anesthesiologist to learn more.

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The ASA does not employ physician anesthesiologists on staff and cannot respond to patient inquiries regarding specific medical conditions or anesthesia administration. Please direct any questions related to anesthetics, procedures or treatment outcomes to the patient’s anesthesiologist or general physician.