Medical centers deal with shortage of IV bags


When the storms hit Puerto Rico last September, it disrupted production at one of the island's major manufacturers of IV bags.

A national IV bag shortage could leave hospitals scrambling to treat patients, especially during flu season.

The hurricane struck Puerto Rico head-on, devastating as much as 80 percent of the island's farm production. "I see it as a crisis", says Pasko.

Baxter International Factories produces the saline bags and nutrient solutions, and also supplied IV bags to Conway Medical Center.

A nasty flu season is hitting US hospitals already scrambling to maintain patient care amid severe shortages of crucial sterile fluids, particularly saline solution needed to administer I.V. medicines and rehydrate patients.

Only a few other companies make those solutions, and supplies never fully recovered after a 2014 shortage of saline bags.

"We're a part of a large health system and it makes it so we can shift supplies to the places that really truly need it, or are getting to a bare minimum on supplies, so we've been able to work with our facilities here in West Texas to ensure that everybody keeps an ample supply to take care of the patients".

McLaren Northern Michigan Hospital in Petoskey has been working around a shortage of smaller IV bags for several months.

"We know this is something that's not going to be fixed overnight", Ms. Grieb said.

"We've been able to substitute giving medicines through a syringe instead of through an IV bag", said Dr. Paul Biddinger, Director of the Center for Disaster Medicine at Massachusetts General Hospital.

He says, shortages like this are very unpredictable, but he says any changes they implement to help in the meantime, are done with the patient's safety in mind. "That has a huge impact on our nursing care", said Calvert.