PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — Nationwide, bags for intravenous fluids are in short supply.
Hurricane Maria, which hit Puerto Rico last year, halted production at Baxter’s manufacturing plants. Baxter makes up more than 43 percent of the United States’ IV solutions market.
The shortage has caused some hospitals to conserve IV fluids. This intensive care unit in Boston has resorted to keeping patients hydrated in other ways.
“All right, gonna give you that Gatorade now,” says nurse Hannah Owens-Pike to her patient.
“Not until this happened did we realize how many things are actually being produced there,” says Owens-Pike of Puerto Rico’s role in the supply chain, “and how it is significantly affecting the whole country’s medical system.”
During peak flu season, this could be a problem.
“If we had a very severe flu season start to develop in the next weeks and months,” says Massachusetts General Hospital emergency medicine physician Dr. Paul Biddinger, “that could push us over the edge.”
Not only some hospitals, but some emergency services are feeling the pinch. Borrowing from other hospitals or departments isn’t so easy, since the shortage is widespread.
So far in the Pittsburgh area, reserves are good.
Allegheny Health Network says patient care has not been affected by the shortage. It gets supplies from Australia and Europe. AHN is keeping a close eye on its current holdings of smaller bags, and has put in place contingency measures, such as using other ways of giving medications.
St. Clair Hospital says it uses a different manufacturer.
UPMC has taken conservation measures, but this has not affected patients.