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Officials: Nationwide shortage of IV fluids caused by quality issues

The American Hospital Association said the problem was worsened as a result of Hurricane Maria’s impact on manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico


The American Hospital Association said the problem was worsened as a result of Hurricane Maria’s impact on manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico.


By Mike Danahey
The Courier-News

ELGIN, Ill. — Hospitals and medical facilities across the nation are dealing with a shortage of bagged intravenous fluids needed to treat patients.

According to a release from the American Hospital Association, factors contributing to the problem are continued pharmaceutical market consolidation and production interruptions at some manufacturing facilities because of quality issues. These shortages worsened as a result of Hurricane Maria’s impact on manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, the release stated.

“With the safety of patients always our top priority, we’ve developed a robust action plan to respond to the nationwide shortage of IV fluid products that is impacting all hospitals and health systems,” said Bill Forslev, chief pharmacy officer for Advocate Health Care, which includes Elgin’s Sherman Hospital.

Forslev said measures taken by Advocate facilities include utilizing alternative products and treatment options as appropriate and providing all clinical staff with updated best practices.

“We’re confident in our response plan, and at this time there’s been no impact on our patients,” Forslev said

“Presence Saint Joseph Hospital, as with all Presence Health ministries, maintains ample operational and medical resources to meet the acute and chronic care needs of our patients,” Presence Saint Joseph Hospital Operations Manager, Pharmacy Barry Morrison said.

The release stated the most significant and severe shortages are for small-volume products, such as the 50 milliliter and 100 milliliter bags of certain sodium chloride solutions and dextrose solutions as well as IV nutritional products made by Baxter.

The release noted that the Food and Drug Administration has been working with Baxter and other drug companies to reduce the impact of these shortages and to restore operations of Baxter facilities in Puerto Rico.

The hurricane wiped out the island’s electrical grid, shutting down Baxter’s three Puerto Rico factories for several days. The Deerfield-based company ramped up production by using generators. According to reports, as of Monday and more than a month after the hurricane hit, nearly 70 percent of Puerto Rico remained without electricity.

Baxter is the biggest maker of small saline bags for the U.S. market. A couple of other companies make similar products, and since 2014 there have been shortages across the industry.

Baxter and other companies have said that before Maria hit they rushed to ship finished products off the island. They also moved inventory around to try to boost the supply for the U.S. market.

According to the release, the FDA recently permitted Baxter to import products in short supply from their plants in Ireland, Australia, Mexico and Canada. But the American Hospital Association said the imported supplies are not expected to fully address existing shortages, and the shortages are not expected to be resolved for several months.

Elgin Assistant fire Chief Bryan McMahan said the fire department has not heard anything from EMS partner Advocate Sherman about the shortage. McMahan said that Elgin paramedics typically don’t use the minibags, but use larger IV bags on calls.

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