In this past week’s issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, the CDC announced two new outbreaks of an invasive methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, (MRSA) resulting from medical professionals using single-dose vials of pain medicine on more than one patient. MRSA causes a disease that cannot be cured with first-line antibiotic treatments and, once the infection begins, it can quickly spread to the bones, joints, blood, or vital organs.

Since 2007, there have been 20 outbreaks of MRSA and, according to the report, most have occurred because the shortage of drugs in smaller vials has forced medical professionals to take the risk of using larger, single-dose vials on multiple patients.

This year’s first outbreak of MRSA occurred in March at an orthopedic clinic in Delaware where seven patients were admitted to the hospital with infections in their knee, hip, or thumb. All patients received injections from the same orthopedic clinic and all required surgery to remove the infected areas. An investigation found that the clinic used 30 mL single-dose vials of an anesthetic on multiple patients when the 10 mL vials of the same drug became unavailable commercially.

The second outbreak occurred in April when seven people in Arizona contracted MRSA after receiving treatment at the same outpatient pain management clinic. Investigators found that nurses took single-dose vials of medicine and transferred the contents to separate vials; thus diluting and cross-contaminating the solutions.

The drug shortage problem is creating a national patient safety crisis. This past week, Hartley Medical released a blog entry entitled, “Medical Professionals Turn to Expired Drugs for Medical Emergencies” where we discussed medical professionals in Oregon using expired medications that are currently in shortage during emergency situations because “[…] giving expired drugs is better than giving no drugs at all.”

So what can be done to help medical professionals manage the drug shortage crisis and ensure patient safety? It’s simple – contact Hartley Medical. As a sterile compounding pharmacy, Hartley Medical can either repackage larger, commercially available formulations to smaller single-dose volumes – preventing the risks associated with re-using larger, single-dose vials and reducing wastage – or we can compound certain commercially unavailable products from their powder forms.

Here at Hartley Medical, we have an unwavering dedication to compounding sterile pharmaceuticals to the highest standards of quality. We think first and foremost about patient safety.

Contact us today to find out which shortage drugs we compound.

For more information about the drug shortage crisis and how Hartley Medical can help, visit our Knowledge Center by clicking here.