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News Release

Medication, Supply, Equipment Shortages are Harming Patients

New Survey Reveals Shortages are Negatively Affecting Patient Care, Causing Harm

A new survey issued by the independent, nonprofit patient safety organization ECRI and its affiliate, the Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP), reveals ongoing national medication, medical supply, and medical equipment shortages are harming patients. According to the two groups, the survey reveals that providing appropriate care is becoming increasingly challenging, leading to instances of unsafe practices, compromised care, and harmful, otherwise avoidable patient safety incidents. 

The nearly 200 respondents included pharmacists and pharmacy technicians, procurement specialists, physicians, and nurses working in community, teaching, pediatric, and cancer care hospitals, among other care locations. The survey was conducted in July 2023. 

Sixty percent of respondents reported shortages of more than 20 drugs, single-use supplies, or other medical devices during the six months prior to the survey. Respondents say care quality has been broadly affected by the shortages, including in surgery and anesthetics (74%), emergency care (64%), pain management (52%), cardiology (45%), hematology and oncology (44%), infectious diseases (39%), and obstetrics and gynecology (37%).

“While medication and supply shortages have been widely reported across healthcare, we now know with certainty that these shortages are causing preventable harm and have the potential to cause even more if they are not addressed soon,” said Marcus Schabacker, MD, PhD, president and CEO of ECRI. “There are strategies hospitals can use to reduce the impact of shortages, but they are a deviation from standard practice and resource-intensive—two characteristics that themselves can increase the likelihood of preventable harm.” 
Most respondents reported that shortages have compromised patient care, with half saying shortages have delayed patient treatments and one-third reporting they were unable to provide patients with optimally recommended drugs or treatments. A quarter of respondents said they were aware of at least one error related to a drug, supply, or device shortage.

Specific examples of the impact of shortages reported in the survey include:
-    Interruption or delays in chemotherapy regimens
-    Administration of more opioid analgesia due to lidocaine shortages
-    Dissemination of incorrect medication dosage instructions to patients 
-    Postponement or cancellation of surgeries  

“The extent to which medication, supply, and equipment shortages are negatively impacting patient care is inexcusable,” said Rita K. Jew, PharmD, MBA, president of ISMP. “While pharmacies and hospitals can triage shortages short-term, we need long-term, nationally coordinated solutions to solve the persistent shortages we’ve witnessed repeatedly over the last several years.” 

Contact: Sara Matthews;; 281-650-2961

About ECRI

ECRI is an independent, nonprofit organization improving the safety, quality, and cost-effectiveness of care across all healthcare settings. With a focus on technology evaluation and safety, ECRI is respected and trusted by healthcare leaders and agencies worldwide. Over the past fifty-five years, ECRI has built its reputation on integrity and disciplined rigor, with an unwavering commitment to independence and strict conflict-of-interest rules.

ECRI is the only organization worldwide to conduct independent medical device evaluations, with labs located in North America and Asia Pacific. ECRI is designated an Evidence-based Practice Center by the U.S. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. ECRI and the Institute for Safe Medication Practices PSO is a federally certified Patient Safety Organization as designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) formally became an ECRI Affiliate in 2020. Visit

About ISMP

The Institute for Safe Medication Practices (ISMP) is the nation’s first 501c (3) nonprofit organization devoted entirely to preventing medication errors. ISMP is known and respected for its medication safety information. For more than 25 years, it also has served as a vital force for progress. ISMP’s advocacy work alone has resulted in numerous necessary changes in clinical practice, public policy, and drug labeling and packaging. Among its many initiatives, ISMP runs the only national voluntary practitioner medication error reporting program, publishes newsletters with real-time error information read and trusted throughout the global healthcare community, and offers a wide range of unique educational programs, tools, and guidelines. In 2020, ISMP formally affiliated with ECRI to create one of the largest healthcare quality and safety entities in the world, and ECRI and the ISMP PSO is a federally certified patient safety organization by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. As an independent watchdog organization, ISMP receives no advertising revenue and depends entirely on charitable donations, educational grants, newsletter subscriptions, and volunteer efforts to pursue its life-saving work. Visit and follow @ismp_org to learn more.


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About ISMP

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