The amount of a drug made available within a hospital is set by an agreement between the hospital and the manufacturer.
Limited manufacturing, lagging production time and lack of profits from these drugs contribute to the shortages. The production costs for some drugs can outweigh the money that companies can make from them, since many drugs now have cheaper generic alternatives. So manufacturers stop making the drugs.
Since these medications are mainly housed in hospitals, most patients won't know they can't have them until they really need them.
"Many physicians may be willing to mention the shortage to the family because they're just as frustrated," said Bernhardt.
However, Bernhardt said, that supply counts depend on location. Some hospitals may not be experiencing a shortage at all, she said.
"We don't want to stir up fear, but [families] should remain in contact with their physician," said Bernhardt.