Hospital IV Bag Shortage Worsens as Flu Season Spikes

January 12, 2018 10:58 PM

(ABC 6 News)—The United States is facing a large IV shortage and its hit close to home. It started when Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico and got worse as the flu season kicked in.

 One of the largest manufactures of saline solution, Baxter, has three plants in Puerto Rico. The hurricane knocked out power for weeks and knocked out production as well -- shorting hospitals and clinics of product all over the U.S.


 "The IV fluid as patients know them as, they come in various different sizes from very small bags to very big bags. The particular shortage was for the very small bags," said Dr. Rahul Koranne, Chief Medical Officer of the Minnesota Hospital Association.

 The shortage was made worse due to the start of the flu season.

 "This year it's particularly a severe year. It looks like it's going to be a particularly severe year for influenza,” said Dr. Thomas Bryce, Pediatric Infectious Disease Specialist at Mayo Clinic.

 Anna Baldwin, Director of Pharmacy Services at Olmsted Medical Center, said in a statement, "Olmsted Medical Center has been affected by the IV shortage--particularly our small-volume bags. We have adjusted our workflow and although this requires more time from pharmacy and nursing, it is not impacting patient care."

 "As we always do to minimize IV fluid exposure or IV exposure, we ramped up trying to have our patients drink more fluids through their mouth," said Dr. Koranne.

 ABC 6 News reached out to the Baxter company in Puerto Rico. It said it activated targeted recovery strategies across the globe and that millions of special imported products have entered the U.S. supply chain.

 "We want to make sure that things that our hospitals need to take care of our patients like IV fluids, like medication, are available to them at all times. So part of this is also dependent on other partners who need to step up," said Dr. Koranne.

 Mayo Clinic said in a statement, “Mayo Clinic has had a multi-disciplinary team monitoring real and potential product shortages associated with the destruction in Puerto Rico since Hurricane Maria hit the island. With a few exceptions, product availability, for the most part, has not been interrupted.”

They also stated, “Thanks to Baxter’s willingness to work with impacted organizations along with Mayo Clinic’s own conservation activities, therapeutic exchanges, and sourcing from other FDA-approved suppliers and manufacturers of solutions from other countries, we have been able to manage through the impact to date. At this point, we are optimistic that we will be able to work through any associated issues as a result of this hurricane.”

Baxter announced power was restored to all of its plants in Puerto Rico in late December. As a result, the FDA says IV production is improving and getting back to normal. 


Marissa Collins

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