The Albuterol Shortage and the RTs Role

 Published: March 20, 2023


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In response to the albuterol shortage, AARC is taking proactive measures with all stakeholder groups to help address the issue. While increasing production of the bronchodilator is the most obvious solution, there are steps in which the respiratory therapist can take to mitigate the issue.

According to Stoller and Kollef et al, protocol utilization is a safe and effective alternative to physician-directed care and can serve as a great opportunity for the respiratory therapist to reduce misallocated therapy, and (potentially) the amount of albuterol that is inappropriately prescribed. According to AARC’s 2020 Human Resource Survey, only 43% of hospitals incorporate protocols into the delivery of respiratory care, thus creating a significant opportunity for hospitals.

All is not lost for those working in hospitals who do not allow protocol use or in states whose scope of practice do not allow the use of RT-driven protocols. The AARC encourages those departments to work closely with their medical directors to ensure all prescribed therapy is ordered based on evidence/clinical practice guidelines like the EPR-3 Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma or the GOLD Guidelines for the Prevention, Diagnosis and Management of COPD.

It is important to know that only the liquid form of albuterol sulfate is in short supply. There is still an adequate supply of metered dose inhalers. According to Dolovich and colleagues in a special report published in CHEST, there is no significant difference between devices (nebulizers vs. MDI) and both can be equally efficacious so long as the following are considered: device/drug availability; clinical setting; patient age and the ability to use the selected device correctly (amongst others). As a result, converting patients to meter-dose inhalers (for those able to use them correctly) is another option to consider.

AARC President Carl Hinkson spoke with, an online news source with a reach of 21.4 million unique viewers per minute, about the upcoming albuterol shortage. Read the article and what Carl had to say about the shortage.

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