Some paramedics are injecting expired medications, despite a risk they won't work as intended
By Jonathan J. Cooper
SALEM, Ore. — When paramedics ran out of a critical drug used to treat irregular heartbeats, the Bend Fire Department in Central Oregon dug into its stash of expired medications, loaded up the trucks and kept treating patients.
Paramedics reported asking some of those facing medical emergencies: "Is it OK if we use this expired drug?"
Emergency responders in various jurisdictions have reported turning to last resort practices as they struggle to deal with a shortage of drug supplies created by manufacturing delays and industry changes. Some are injecting expired medications or substituting alternatives. Others are simply going without.
The University of Utah's Drug Information Service reports 275 medications are in short supply. Clinics and hospitals have reported struggles getting chemotherapy drugs to treat cancer and anesthetics used in surgery.
In the past two years, paramedics from different agencies have dealt with shortages of critical first-line drugs like Valium to treat seizures, dextrose 50 to boost the blood sugar of diabetics and magnesium sulfate for eclampsia, an attack of convulsions during pregnancy. They've run low on painkillers and sedation drugs.
Full story: http://www.ems1.com/ems-products/medical-equipment/articles/1314096-Paramedics-turn-to-expired-drugs-due-to-shortages/