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Pharmacy team ensures continued patient care and safety during drug shortages

Pharmacy team ensures continued patient care and safety during drug shortages

Jane Mackenzie and Mario Bedard

With March being Pharmacy Month, it seemed like a good time to reflect on the past year and the challenges overcome thanks to the hard working Pharmacy team at The Ottawa Hospital.

Back in February 2012, there was a major event at the Sandoz manufacturing plant in Boucherville, Quebec. At the time, The Ottawa Hospital was purchasing 143 different medications from Sandoz, most of which were injectable medications. Of these, 73 were only available in Canada through Sandoz. The company was able to provide allotments of different drugs to the different hospitals, but supply was never 100% of the usual usage or guaranteed.

The Pharmacy team at The Ottawa Hospital worked together in this difficult time to ensure that patients continued to receive the treatments and care that they needed, in a safe way with as little disruption as possible.

Jane Mackenzie, Pharmacy Operations Manager, worked long hours trying to anticipate quantities of drugs needed and finding alternatives when drugs were not at all available.

Mario Bedard, Director of Pharmacy, met with physician groups to discuss alternatives when drugs used in their specialities were unavailable. He also became the coordinator for hospitals in the region to ensure that sharing of certain drugs was possible between different institutions.

Dr. Rakesh Patel was the physician lead on the Pharmacy and Therapeutics committee and ensured  that physicians were involved and participated in the decisions related to alternatives to drugs that were no longer available. He also presented updates to the Medical Advisory Committee (MAC) as well as to the Senior Management team.

Individual pharmacists at The Ottawa Hospital also provided advice on alternative drugs choices, so patient care would be minimally affected and patient safety maintained.

In the last six months, the back order situation has stabilized, but pharmacy’s work is never done!

Jennifer Spencer
Professional Practice Coordinator – Education/Orientation
Pharmacy Department, The Ottawa Hospital


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