Press Release

Patient Treatment Delayed Due to Drug Shortages, New Survey Finds

Some patients have to take less effective drugs or delay treatment because of drug shortages, according to a new survey released today.  Hospitals across the country are feeling the strain of drug shortages on their resources, a situation that has serious consequences for patient care and access to vital therapies.

With drug shortages becoming increasingly frequent, the American Hospital Association (AHA) surveyed its members to find out how the shortages have impacted day-to-day patient care.  The AHA survey of 820 hospitals revealed that almost 100 percent of hospitals reported a shortage in the last six months and nearly half of the hospitals reported 21 or more drug shortages. 

While many hospitals were able to find alternative sources for the drugs in short supply, the AHA survey revealed that in the last six months:

  • Hospitals report that they have delayed treatment (82%) and more than half were not always able to provide the patient with the recommended treatment
  • Patients got a less effective drug (69%)
  • Hospitals experienced drug shortages across all treatment categories
  • Most hospitals rarely or never receive advance notification of drug shortages (77%) or are informed about the cause of the shortage (67%)
  • The vast majority of all hospitals reported increased drug costs as a result of drug shortages
    • Most hospitals are purchasing more expensive alternative drugs from other sources

"The number of drugs in short supply is increasing at an alarming rate and hospitals are working diligently to reduce the impact to the patients they care for," said AHA President and CEO Rich Umbdenstock.  "Clinicians need more notice about drug shortages so they have time to act to ensure that patient care is not disrupted."
The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) also conducted a survey in partnership with the University of Michigan Health System that found that the labor costs and time required to manage shortages are significant.  The survey showed the labor costs associated with managing shortages translates to an estimated annual impact of $216 million nationally.

The AHA is working in collaboration with ASHP and other stakeholders to offer solutions to the growing problem including:

  • Establishing an early warning system to help avert or mitigate drug shortages;
  • Removing regulatory obstacles faced by manufacturers and the FDA  to avert or mitigate drug shortages;
  • Improving communication among stakeholders, including more complete and timely  information about shortages; and
  • Exploring incentives to encourage drug manufacturers to stay in, re-enter or initially enter the market.

To view the AHA survey visit and to view the ASHP survey go to

About the AHA

The AHA is a not-for-profit association of health care provider organizations and individuals that are committed to the health improvement of their communities. The AHA is the national advocate for its members, which include nearly 5,000 hospitals, health care systems, networks, other providers of care and 43,000 individual members. Founded in 1898, the AHA provides education for health care leaders and is a source of information on health care issues and trends. For more information, visit the AHA website at

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