Posted on Feb 03, 2014

Hospitals around the country heavily rely on intravenous saline solution (IV) for their patients. But the Food and Drug Administration has issued a serious warning to hospitals across the nation to conserve IV's as the IV supply is currently at a shortage.

Time magazine reports on the IV shortage issue.

The FDA is attempting to conjure alternatives or a solution to the issue. The number of hospitals facing IV shortage issues is currently unknown but the problem has officially become a national issue.

Time explains, “Millions of bags of the solution, which are essential for hydrating patients, and are also critical for cleansing the blood of dialysis patients, are used nationwide each week. The IV solution cannot be replaced with other forms of saline because it is specifically designed to be administered by injection.” IV cannot be injected into humans because the level of participates would be too high. They must be administered in the bag form but manufacturers are experiencing delays and hospitals did not plan for this issue ahead of time.

Hospitals claim that they had not expected such a shortage to occur. The number of flu cases this year has risen sharply and hospitals need IV bags to treat flu patients. The sharp rise in flu patients and extra use of IV bags for them has contributed to the shortage. Hospitals do not have any back up plans at this time for alternatives to the IV bags. But other organizations are trying to solve the problem before it worsens. “Some healthcare providers are asking staff to find ways to conserve the IV solutions by using smaller bags, while others are using alternatives such as oral hydration fluids. The agency (FDA) is hoping the three major manufacturers of the product — Baxter Healthcare Corp., B.Braun Medical Inc., and Hospira Inc. — will be able to meet the increased demand in coming weeks,” according to Time.

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Gerry Oginski
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