Saline shortage complicates flu treatment at hospitals nationwide

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The U.S. EPA released an update on conditions in Puerto Rico on January 5.

While it has been a struggle, the shortage has not affected patient care at CoxHealth.

During an already hard flu season for hospitals, this makes a bad situation that much worse.

The group will be stationed in the western part of Puerto Rico.

The acute shortage of IV bags is linked to Hurricane Maria and the devastation it wrought on Puerto Rico last September.

Hospital officials, pharmacists and other staff have been devising alternatives and workarounds, training doctors and nurses on new procedures and options, and hitting the phones to try to secure fluids from secondary suppliers. As Puerto Rico's power grid is restored, Baxter International factories, which make the nutrient solutions and saline bags, was reconnected before Christmas.

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"Given the improvements we've seen over the last few weeks, I'm optimistic that supplies of IV saline and amino acids will increase over the next few weeks and the stress of the shortage will begin to abate, even if the shortages will not be fully resolved immediately". He said at Duke, the hospital's allocation of IV bags have been reduced by half.

The potential for a high demand of IV supplies still exists.

"It would've been ideal to have a redundant system in place to manage it", said Patel.

Russell Mariott, vice president for marketing and development for Tennova Healthcare, said they are "taking all actions to ensure safe patient care".

The hospital said they've also been performing IV pushes, which is a medication technique that delivers a dose of medication - injected all at once directly into a vein or access port - to produce an immediate peak drug level in the patient's bloodstream.

A representative with Bellin Health said they have not been directly impacted by the IV bag shortage. "Our manufacturers are rebuilding as quickly as they possibly can and they've been accommodating where needed when we urgently had needs for certain products".