Nationwide, drug shortages affect anesthesiologists

August 22, 2011
In a nationwide survey of anesthesiologists conducted in April by the American Society of Anesthesiologists, 90.4 percent of respondents reported experiencing a shortage of at least one drug used in practice.

“The results of that survey as well as what I hear from physicians across the country show that anesthesia drug shortages continue to impact the quality of patient care,” Dr. Arnold J. Berry, ASA’s vice president for scientific affairs, told DOTmed News by e-mail.

Anesthesiologists can turn to alternative drugs, although some pharmaceuticals, like succinylcholine, have no comparable substitutes, Berry said.

In a recent ASA survey on the impact of the drug shortages on anesthesiologists, 91.8 percent of the respondents said they used alternative drugs; 51.5 percent said they had to change a procedure in some way, and 6 percent had to postpone cases.

The industry hopes the worst of the shortages is over but the situation is far from ideal. “Since there are multiple causes of these shortages, without real regulatory and legislative improvements to the current system, it is likely they will continue,” Berry said.

FDA OKs new anesthesia systems
In February, Mindray Medical International Limited received 510(k) clearance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for its A5 Anesthesia System.

The device is equipped with a 15-inch touch screen and a range of advanced ventilation modes. The auxiliary O2/Air Blender feature is designed to reduce the risk of surgical fires by controlling the concentration of oxygen under the drape and near the patient’s head and chest.

And in June, Maquet Critical Care received FDA approval for its Flow-i anesthesia system, including the C20, C30 and C40 models. The system is equipped with an advanced ventilation platform and can be used to provide inhalation anesthesia to neonatal, as well as adult patients.