DRUG PROBLEM: Shortages of medicines widely used in hospitals, mostly injectable generic drugs such as antibiotics, anesthetic and painkillers, began rising in 2005. New shortages are declining but others persist for years.
HOSPITAL IMPACT: Hospitals say they're handling the shortages better, and many are dealing with fewer shortages at once. They're adding backup inventory, rationing some scarce drugs and implementing safety measures for alternative medicine choices to prevent errors.
OTHER COSTS: There are still plenty of errors that may be harming patients, and the country's 5,000 hospitals are spending well over $230 million a year extra to get scarce drugs.