The shortage has meant emergency room doctors and Paramedics who work on ambulances are having to look elsewhere for pain drugs like morphine, which is commonly used to treat pain, to drugs like Valium, which doctors prescribe to treat seizures, among other things.
Dr. Joe Sassin, who heads the Emergency Department at UMC Hospital and is also the Medical Director for the South Plains EMS, said the problem has been getting worse for years.
"Recently what has happened is one manufacture has stopped manufacturing so it dries up there supply so everyone goes to another manufacturer and dries up their supply," Dr. Sassin explained.
The shortage has especially impacted the more than 30 EMS services he oversees as part of his job at SPEMS. Dr. Sassin has had to devise new protocols for area EMS services that take into account some second- and third-option drugs won't be available.
So far, the problem hasn't meant patients have had to receive a lower standard of care, Dr. Sassin said. Instead, different, less desirable, drugs are being used to treat patients.
Dr. Sassin also added that this is a problem that will get better before it gets worse.
"Our ems services are still able to provide the best of care but the warning signs are still up, they're screaming we have to do something soon," he said. "As far out as five years, at least two years, we'll have this spotty coverage of many drugs."