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Ongoing remifentanil shortage forces anaesthetists to relearn techniques from a decade ago

BMJ 2022; 378 doi: (Published 12 August 2022) Cite this as: BMJ 2022;378:o2018
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

Ongoing remifentanil shortages are disrupting anaesthetists’ work and forcing them to relearn about drugs and techniques they were using 10 to 15 years ago, anaesthetists have told The BMJ.

Remifentanil is a short acting synthetic opioid analgesic drug used for general anaesthesia and in critical care, and it allows patients to recover quickly from anaesthesia. While alternative drugs are available, they often result in a slower recovery time and can cause side effects to last longer.

An “impending disruption” to the supply of remifentanil was flagged by the Royal College of Anaesthetists in June, in a joint statement with the Association of Anaesthetists, the Intensive Care Society, and the Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine.1 It advised, “Trusts will only be able …

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