National survey on the effect of oncology drug shortages on cancer care.
National drug shortages in the United States have become a serious patient safety concern. These shortages reached record levels in 2011, resulting in documented patient harm, longer stays, and increased costs. This survey of US oncology pharmacists reveals that cancer drug shortages were common during the first half of 2011 and resulted in delays and changes in chemotherapy. Use of less familiar alternatives also led to increased risk of medication errors and adverse outcomes. Near misses were reported by 16% of respondents, and 6% documented medication errors. A previous article discussed how hospitals and health care leaders might address this "patient safety crisis."