The MGH and hospitals throughout the country continue to grapple with the injectable opioid shortage. In the coming days and weeks, patients, families and caregivers may ask about the nationwide opioid shortage. Here are some important talking points to help provide an overview of the situation at the MGH.

Q: I’ve heard there is a shortage of pain medication. Is this true?

A: Yes. There is a shortage of one type of pain medicine. Opioid pain medicines that are given by a needle or directly into a vein are in short supply. Other types of pain medicines are not affected.

Q: What products are affected by the shortage?

A: All opioids given by a needle or into a vein may be affected.
Some of the names of these medicines are fentanyl, morphine and Dilaudid (hydromorphone).

Q: Are there other pain medicines that are not affected by
the shortage?

A: Yes. There are other types of non-opioid pain medicines that can be given by a needle or into a vein. Opioid medicines in pill or liquid form that can be swallowed are also not affected.

Q: Will this shortage of injectable opioid medications affect my treatment plan?

A: It may. Our top priority is to provide you with the highest quality care. That includes helping you with your pain. Hospital experts have plans in place to use pain medicines that are not in short supply whenever possible. We will always check with you to make sure the pain treatment plan is working for you. If you have any concerns about the medicine you are getting, ask a member of your care team.

Q: How long is the shortage expected to last?

A: The shortage may last for several months or longer. Please know all care teams throughout the MGH are working to make sure you will continue to get the best possible care. 

This article was originally published in the 06/01/18 Hotline issue.