In most times of shortages, the public is aware of those shortages. For example, consider the oil shortages of the 1970s energy crisis, or in the medical realm any time there are blood or vaccine shortages, or even the ongoing shortage of nurses within the U.S. However, the public is largely unaware of the current shortage of drugs in hospitals around the country, according to the The New York Times. The shortage of drugs ranges from vital cancer medications, drugs used in operations, and even intravenous vitamins and supplements. In fact, according to the University of Utah’s Drug Information Service, the number of drugs in short supply has risen by 74% in the last five years. What is equally troubling is that many patients are completely unaware that they are not receiving the vital drugs that were once available to everyone.
Rationing What Drugs are Available Means Some Go Without While Some Receive
Hospitals have set up panels to decide who gets treatment with particular drugs and who does not. These panels are made of physicians, pharmacists, ethicists, and the heads of pharmaceutical companies. In terms of cancer medication, younger children are often treated before adults because they have a longer life expectancy after recovery and they are smaller, meaning they require less of the drug and that there will be more for the next patient. Additionally, child cancer patients are given what intravenous vitamins and fat supplements are available because it is believed that adults have a higher amount already stored. Deciding who gets treatment and who does not sometimes means life or death to the patient, and puts healthcare professionals in a terrible, heart breaking position. It is a situation that should not exist within the wealthiest nation in the world, and the reasons for its existence (the short supply of drugs) is an even more disturbing story.
The Causes of the Short Supply
Over 150 drugs are in short supply, according to the the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists. The reason for this is that there has been a lack in production because of U.S. Food and Drug Administration crackdowns on faulty products, as well as pharmaceutical companies deciding to slow production on vital yet low-profit drugs. Unfortunately, profits come before people in even the field of medicine.
Contact a Faulty Products, Personal Injury, or Medical Malpractice Attorney
The Journal of Patient Safety estimates that between 210,000 and 440,000 people die prematurely in hospitals and healthcare facilities annually within the U.S. As the drug shortage continues to worsen, this number will only rise as doctors are forced to treat patients without the proper medication. Similarly, if you have been treated with the wrong drug or have been prescribed an unsafe drug, you may be able to file either a medical malpractice lawsuit or a faulty products lawsuit, accordingly. The compensation you receive can help cover your past and future medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Contact an experienced medical malpractice, unsafe products, or personal injury attorney today to discuss your legal options.
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