ASHP Survey Finds Severe Supply Disruption in Medical Masks

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is surveying members of the Section of Pharmacy Practice leaders on a bi-weekly basis to obtain the real-time status of medical supplies during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP) is surveying members of the Section of Pharmacy Practice leaders on a bi-weekly basis to obtain the real-time status of medical supplies during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.

The first 2 surveys assessed the status of supplies and availability of surgical-type masks, N-95 respirators, or other masks used in health care settings. The most recent survey includes results from the second bi-weekly survey, also known as round 2, including 382 respondents who responded to 19 questions that were fielded for 4 days. The data were compared with the first bi-weekly survey, round 1, which was completed from March 9 to March 15 and had 403 responses.

In round 2, 42% of respondents categorized the disruption in supplies of surgical-type medical masks as either major or moderate, indicating either going without masks or using alternatives with mixed or poor results. This was a 27%-point increase from the 15% cited in round 1.

Michael Ganio, PharmD, MS, BCPS, FASHP, senior director of Pharmacy Practice and Quality at ASHP, felt that this was one of the key findings of the round 2 survey.

“The magnitude of increase in respondents reporting a more severe supply disruption in medical masks compared to the first round of the survey, conducted two weeks prior, was surprising,” Ganio said in an interview with Pharmacy Times®. “This was also the first survey that asked specifically about sterile compounding practice. The number of respondents conserving masks by either reusing masks or using an alternative mask of non-shedding fabric (combined 64%) was also surprising.”

In addition, 28% of round 2 respondents have requested a distribution of personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Strategic National Stockpile, with 53% of those respondents being successful in obtaining medical masks. When questioned about medical mask purchases, 79% reported vendor-implemented allocations, which is 19% higher from the round 1 survey.

According to Ganio, the most specific difficulties that he has seen for pharmacists on the frontlines involves drugs used to care for patients with COVID-19 who require mechanical ventilation.

“Access to sedatives like fentanyl, midazolam, and propofol has been very problematic for the New York City metropolitan area as well as other COVID-19 hot spots,” Ganio told Pharmacy Times®. “Hospitals are also concerned with the availability of neuromuscular blockers like vecuronium, cisatracurium, and rocuronium, and some vasopressors like norepinephrine, phenylephrine, and vasopressin.”

Regarding the importance of conducting the bi-weekly survey, Ganio said that evaluating the status of pharmacy resources helps us understand how pharmacists on the frontlines are managing or preparing to manage the pandemic.

“By evaluating the status of resources like [PPE], drugs needed for mechanically ventilated patients, or pharmacy staff, we are able to provide resources and advocate on behalf of our colleagues to federal agencies who can implement policy changes that will us care for our patients,” Ganio told Pharmacy Times®. “Sharing this information helps reinforce the message to the public to take COVID-19 seriously and follow recommendation to stay at home and follow precautions to avoid getting sick or spreading the virus.”

REFERENCE

COVID-19 bi-weekly medical supplies survey results. ASHP. https://www.ashp.org/Pharmacy-Practice/Resource-Centers/Coronavirus/Bi-weekly-PPE-Survey-Results-Covid-19. Published April 3, 2020. Accessed April 7, 2020.