In this episode, I’ll discuss a cost-avoidance study of a redistribution process to reduce waste of emergency medications in drug boxes.
Placing emergency medications throughout the hospital in drug boxes is essential to ensure their availability when emergencies arise.
However, this leads to a large number of medications that expire unused. This wastage is especially problematic during periods of medication shortage.
Authors at the Department of Pharmacy, Johns Hopkins Hospital conducted a cost-avoidance study of a redistribution process to reduce waste of emergency medications in drug boxes.
The authors defined short-dated medications as those expiring within 4 months. They removed short-dated medications from more than 200 emergency drug boxes during two 3-month time periods. Any medication that expired within 2 weeks was discarded. The remaining medications were redistributed to areas of the hospital likely to use them such as satellite pharmacies and the ED.
The estimated total annualized cost avoidance was $104,357 for the first 3-month period and $144,674 for the second 3-month period.
Beyond cost-avoidance, this strategy had a meaningful impact on medication shortage management because 12 of the 16 medications kept in the drug boxes were in short supply at the time of the study.
The authors concluded:
A process that facilitates appropriate redistribution of short-dated emergency drug box medications can reduce medication waste and lead to substantial cost avoidance.
A similar strategy could easily be employed at other hospitals and would be reasonably expected to achieve meaningful cost avoidance and help alleviate drug shortages.
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If you like this post, check out my book – A Pharmacist’s Guide to Inpatient Medical Emergencies: How to respond to code blue, rapid response calls, and other medical emergencies.