flu

flu

Hospitals face nationwide saline shortage

2h ago
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BEAUMONT - by Lauren Huet Hospitals nationwide are facing a shortage of intravenous saline solution. A clinical pharmacist with Baptist Hospital in Beaumont tells us, there are three main saline solution manufacturers in the U.S., and one of those companies' plants is temporarily shut down. She says the other manufacturers are trying to meet the increased demand, but hospitals are still dealing with a shortage. Also, she says increased demand during the flu season may have contributed to the shortage. Bags of IV saline solution are used throughout hospitals. "And right now we don't have much," said clinical pharmacist for Baptist Hospital, Jahnavi Karri. "We are trying to replace the liter bags with the 500 ml bags, but I talked to my buyer today, and he said they're having trouble getting the 500 ml bags as well." Which leaves hospitals nationwide searching for alternatives. "The other alternatives would be using lactated Ringer's or other isotonic solutions, but the problem is they are also short right now and we are having trouble getting these bags," said Karri. Karri says a saline shortage is just as important as any other drug shortage. "Everybody uses, and nobody thinks about saline as a drug, and you use it a lot," said Karri. "Now once you have a shortage, you understand how much you're using. And [the shortage is] mainly because a plant is down and the other manufacturers have to make up for the down time." Hospitals use IV solutions for surgeries, to re-hydrate patients, and to give nutrients to patients who are unable to eat. "And we also need fluids to make drugs, like if a patient needs to get an antibiotic, we have to put that antibiotic in a bag," said Karri. Baptist Hospital in Beaumont just received a shipment of about 1300 saline solution bags. They go through about 1400 bags each week, and are already searching for their next shipment. "We are trying to move around the stock we have in the hospital," said Karri, "like ER uses a lot, ICU uses a lot, so we are trying to allocate drugs to the appropriate floors. Notifying the physicians of the shortage and asking them to really evaluate the need for IV fluids in these patients." Karri says it is possible to make IV saline solution, but would require a lot of manpower. "We can probably mix normal saline vials to sterile water bags and make the concentration, but it's going to be very time consuming to make 1,400 bags which we require a week," said Karri.