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13 January 2018, 03:00 | Devin Moran
Saline shortage complicates flu treatment at hospitals nationwide
The shortage of the ubiquitous intravenous bags of saline has been going on since 2014, but the supply got hit even further when the hurricane damaged the country's biggest supplier in Puerto Rico last fall.
With Democrats now lacking the votes to enact these provisions, Murphy and Blumenthal called for efforts to pressure Republican senators in states with Puerto Rican populations like Florida and Ohio. "That said, the production situation in Puerto Rico remains fragile". Superintendent Leslie Torres Rodriguez said at a news conference Wednesday she anticipates the unplanned expenses related to accommodating them will reach $1 million this year.
The tidal wave of assistance pouring in from individuals and charitable institutions from CT is much appreciated, they said.
Baxter says it's been shipping those to USA hospitals since October, but hospital officials say that hasn't been enough. "We will continue to serve our patients for the duration of this shortage - and the duration of this year's flu season".
The worst shortage is for small saline bags. Flu season usually peaks in January and February in the United States.
"FEMA said, "Come to the USA - in this case, come to CT".
For years, the manufacturer of the fluids, located in Puerto Rico, was exclusively responsible for supplying of these fluids to hospitals in the United States. Intermittent power outages, however, have slowed Baxter's attempts to get back to full production, and only a few other companies make such products.
The hospital has developed a program to conserve saline supplies, which includes protocols like regularly evaluating patients to ensure IV treatments are necessary and switching patients to oral medication whenever possible.
"It's resource intensive but I think it's a shortage that can be managed without impacting patients", said Patel.
Some hospital officials say the severity of shortages stabilized over the holidays, when elective surgeries and other services drop, but others say shortages are worsening.
The Food and Drug Administration says relief is on the way. "Nationally, everybody was doing the same thing, so as soon as we switched it from one product to the next, that quickly became a shortage in its own right", Britton added.
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