A nationwide shortage of intravenous saline is raising alarm bells, as hospitals scramble to find one of the most commonly used drugs. The problem is getting so bad that some hospitals are asking the government to release saline from its emergency stockpiles.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is working with the three manufacturers of intravenous saline solutions to increase supplies, as hospitals start to ration and reserve the fluids for only their most seriously ill patients. The FDA said in an announcement posted Friday to its website that it is working with the three manufacturers to “help preserve the supply of these necessary products” and boost production.
The FDA Press Release said:
The FDA is aware of the shortage situation for intravenous (IV) solutions, particularly 0.9% sodium chloride injection (i.e., saline) used to provide patients with the necessary fluids for hydration and other conditions. The shortage has been triggered by a range of factors including a reported increased demand by hospitals, potentially related to the flu season.
Late last year, manufactures notified the FDA that they expected delays in filling orders, but that problem has been compounded by in increased number of flu related hospitalizations over the last two weeks that’s left the nation’s hospitals dangerously short on supplies. According to Valerie Jensen, associate director of the drug shortages program at the Food and Drug Administration, “hospitals are still reporting that they may only have a few days supply.”
Crisis highlights how ill Prepared this country is to face a Major Pandemic
In my opinion, this really shows how ill prepared our nation’s hospitals and government agencies are to respond to any sort of major medical crisis. Saline is one of the most commonly used supplies in a hospital; if they can’t even keep something as basic as saline in stock, how do they expect to respond to a major outbreak or pandemic?
Cathy Denning, a registered nurse with Novation, a supply chain company that works with hospitals and other healthcare providers, said it could be another two months before the shortage is resolved. And that’s if everything goes right; even a small spike in flu illnesses could be disastrous – not to mention what a pandemic outbreak would do to the system.