LEE COUNTY, Fla., - A major shortage of one painkiller could be affecting how patients are treated in local emergency rooms. Doctors say they’re seeing a low supply of Dilaudid, a strong opiod given to patients who experience trauma, are undergoing surgery or are battling cancer. Now, the powerful painkiller may not be readily available.
Manufacturers say the shortage is due to increased demand.
Lee Health says they’re being affected by the short supply as well.
“Lee Health has been adjusting patient regimens to alternative narcotic injectable or oral agents and also non-narcotic alternatives,” said Mary Briggs, a spokesperson with Lee Health.
Doctors say when the drug isn’t available, they’re forced to find an alternative. This can sometimes lead to some risks for the patients who may be subject to more side effects from alternate medications.
There are also risk for doctors who may not be as familiar with the alternate medications.
The American Society of Health System Pharmacists reports that, ‘Improper conversion between morphine and hydromorphone caused two deaths during a similar shortage in 2010’.
“There’s always a risk going outside of your protocol and not being as familiar with doing the same thing you’ve always done,” said Dr. Anthony Scola, a physician at Physicians Regional Medical Center in Bonita Springs. “You don’t need one thing to control pain. There should be a multi-modal approach to controlling the pain.”
There’s also been reports of shortages of morphine and Fentanyl as well, other widely used painkillers. Lee Health says while the shortages are inconvenient, it’s not impacting patient care.
It’s unclear how long the shortage could last.