Hospitals struggle to battle peak flu season amid widespread IV bag shortage

Alicia Farmer
January 12, 2018

- A dozen school districts that serve students who came to MA from Puerto Rico following Hurricane Maria are sharing in federally funded grants. On top of that, hospitals have seen a flood of flu patients in recent weeks.

So, the factory was out of commission for some time after the hurricane hit, and that's created a serious shortage since IV bags are used all the time at hospitals.

The Puerto Rican Heritage Society said that they're looking to faith following Hurricane Maria.

Large volume solutions, often referred to as "saline", are not made in Puerto Rico, and are now being produced "at capacity", Baxter said.

Baxter told CBS News that production has resumed since the restoration of its power grid.

Fountain says contrary to a lot of the backlash against the federal response, Puerto Ricans were thankful for the help they received, knowing logistics presented some problems.

A national shortage of a common health supply has local hospitals reacting.

Pasko and other hospital officials said they worry that changes in procedures and products could lead to errors.

The flu season is straining resources at hospitals nationwide with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reporting the flu is widespread in 46 states.

Several noted a cascade effect, with new shortages created as hospitals all try the same workarounds.

The Wall Street Journal has reported that hospitals are now using syringes to deliver medications to their patients instead of IV bags.

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Clark Memorial hopes to get the supply back up by February or March at the earliest.

The worst shortage is for small saline bags.

Deliveries of those have been most unpredictable, said David Chen, a pharmacy director with Promedica, which operates 13 hospitals in OH and MI.

"Some facilities are getting virtually zero. But they're having a good time". "You never know what you're going to get", Chen said.

The FDA has been trying to boost supplies, giving two additional companies approval to start selling saline bags, likely within a couple months. That industry has a "significant presence" in Puerto Rico, and the "disruption ... has had ramifications for patients both on the island and throughout the USA", the federal Food and Drug Administration said in a November 17 announcement.

To date, there has been no impact on patients due to the shortage.

Artists from all over the world headed to Miami to create the mural that, organizers said, shines a spotlight on residents of the Caribbean island who are still in need of help. Remember the grass they weren't able cut and put under the beds?

Tufts is making substitutions, like using the IV push method, which was a way to solve for the absence of Mini-Bag Plus.

This has been a serious concern for all health care providers.

"To have that collaboration has been super for us", Miceli said.

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