Government Not Prepared for Pandemic: Saline Shortage has Hospitals Scrambling for Supplies

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.


  1. Trisha
    January 30, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    Pretty scary but this is our current medical system and it’s only going to get worse. Not only are we almost out of saline (which is almost unbelievable and something I have never seen until now) but it’s getting a lot harder to get a wide variety of drugs.

    I know a number of local hospitals that are actually cutting back on the amount we can give to a patient.

  2. Levi
    January 31, 2014 at 10:56 am

    It’s seems more like the government is hoarding for itself, its DHS army, the elite, as it is with bullets, survival food and much more! People with hospitals and local government must demand DHS and others to release their stored hoard!

    • SNIPER
      January 31, 2014 at 3:30 pm


  3. SJ
    January 31, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I work for a well-known medical supply company in the U.S. I could vouch for the shortage first-hand. Even the largest ambulance company in the U.S. is having a difficult time maintaining an adequate stockpile (an absolute necessity, in the event of a major incident occurring).

    This is NOT a good situation. I’ve been in this business for a long time and this is the first time I’ve encountered this dilemma to this degree.

    One must really begin to wonder if a government agency is secretively hoarding sodium chloride. For what, we can only speculate. I even voiced such a concern to a customer this very day, prior to seeing this article.

  4. Mike414
    February 1, 2014 at 9:28 am

    I have a relative in the hospital in Milwaukee wi and can confirm they are rationing however they are being told more is on the way. The legitimacy of that statement I cannot confirm just reporting from district 5.

  5. Redstarbear
    February 2, 2014 at 12:49 am

    I’m an RN I work at a major metropolitan hospital (undisclosed). I can confirm that the flu this year is worse than I’ve seen in at least a decade. Over 1/3 of our patients on my floor alone in for flu. Hospital wide that’s 250-300 patients. It hasn’t been a killer because of the supportive care we provide. That requires resources NS 0.9% (normal saline) is key in a hospital for many many reasons not just flu. My advice stay away from family members, friends that are sick get vaccinated, get a bottle of hand sanitizer and use it. You will be a miserable SOB even if you do not become critically ill be safe.

  6. City Farm Life
    February 9, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    I wonder if this a by-product of just-in-time ordering/shipping compounded by recent upswing in flu cases?

  7. Luis Melgara
    March 20, 2014 at 6:44 am

    The way I see it; pentagon may be preparing for war, they can see the writing on the wall, IV fluids are essential for mission readiness. While they play diplomatic games in the White House the people that really defend this country are preparing for war. I say, let’s go kick some Russian ass! They have it coming for years.

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