Last Updated : August 25, 2023
Shortage events, the phenomena when demand exceeds supply, can affect both medical care and medical devices. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a global shortage event, the consequences of which are still being experienced beyond the peak of the pandemic (e.g., the lack of pediatric pain medication available in fall 2022).
Children are vulnerable to shortage events as they represent a small proportion of the overall population, have distinct needs, and the pediatric medical device market has historically offered a lack of options.
Technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled devices, point of care testing, and virtual care options could contribute to alleviating shortages in pediatric care.
Technologies such as 3D printing, alternative interventions such as tracheostomy during shortages of mechanical ventilators, and the reprocessing of single use devices such as ventilator tubes have been suggested in times of pediatric medical device shortages.
Solutions to shortage events can take the form of novel devices, interventions, or policies; however, due to the complexity of this problem, a multipronged approach is likely needed.
Shortages can cause delayed intervention, which has health and financial costs. When cancer diagnoses and treatments are delayed, overall survival rates decrease. High-quality early intervention can change a child’s developmental trajectory and improve outcomes for children, families, and communities.
Finding solutions to shortages, particularly for children as they are already at risk for health inequities, is crucial to ensure good health care outcomes in the long-term.
During a shortage event, alternative interventions may have different safety profiles or require different training than default practices.
Equity should be a consideration when implementing technologies, interventions, and policies to address shortage events so that these solutions do not end up replicating or exacerbating existing inequities.