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Alert issued to hospitals as intensive care drugs run low


Doctors have been warned that crucial drugs used to help sedate and ventilate patients in intensive care are running out due to the demand caused by coronavirus.

An alert to hospitals from NHS England today said there were “limited supplies” of muscle relaxant drugs atracurium, cisatracurium and rocuronium, which are used during intubation when patients are sedated and paralysed with a ventilator used to help them breathe.

As a result of the shortages, and to help maintain supplies, NHS England said it would now manage existing supplies “centrally”.

Its said supplies of atracurium and cisatracurium were likely to be exhausted in coming days, and hospitals would need to switch to alternatives that were still available.

A critical care nurse working in ICU in the south of England told The Independent they were already using alternatives but that this had to be used at different concentrations and run for longer to achieve the same sedation.

She said changes like this with staff overstretched could increase the likelihood of drug errors.

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Source: The Independent, 17 April 2020

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