Local Hospitals Deal With IV Saline Shortage

Local Hospitals Deal With IV Saline Shortage

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Local hospitals are running out of a saline solution product manufactured in Puerto Rico, a major hub for many medical supplies and drugs.  

The island was hit hard by recent hurricanes and because of the destruction there, north country hospitals are feeling the effects here.

The saline is contained in bags and is delivered to patients intravenously.

Right now, they're in short supply at Watertown's Samaritan Medical Center.

"The company, Baxter, notified us that we would be put on allocation for many products and some products our allocation does not meet our monthly supply," said Joe Sanzone, director of pharmacy at SMC.

Samaritan is not alone. At least four other hospitals in the north country are also seeing a shortage.

The pharmacist at River Hospital in Alexandria Bay says the hospital will run out of "mini bags" on Friday.

Hospitals like Carthage Area Hospital are finding alternatives, like finding other vendors.

But because demand is high, prices are high too.

"IV fluids are used in all areas of hospital, not just the medical floor, they're used in the ER, ambulatory, the OR. So we just have to make sure we have those fluids on hand," said James Brady, pharmacy director at Carthage Area Hospital.

And it's not just saline solution. There are many other drug and medical supply manufacturers are on the island.

Many can't operate without power or fuel to run generators.

The Federal Drug Administration commissioner put out a statement last week saying "new shortages could result from these disruptions and shortages that existed before the storms could potentially be extended."

Local pharmacy directors say they expect more shortages to come.

"I think that we will see more drug shortages as the companies assess the supply chain and how much drug is currently in the supply chain and the approximate date of running out of that product," said Sanzone.

To prevent the situation from becoming an issue, many of the hospitals are switching the products they use or the volume of the IV bags.

It's important to mention the shortage is not affecting patient care at any north country hospitals.

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