Hospitals dealing with saline shortage

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – A common fluid that is used in almost every hospital and health care facility is in short supply.

According to the Federal Drug Administration, there is a shortage of intravenous solutions, particularly 0.9 percent sodium chloride injection (i.e. saline) used to provide patients with the necessary fluids for hydration and other conditions.

The shortage has been triggered by a range of factors, including a reported increased demand by hospitals, potentially related to the flu season, according to the FDA.

Locally, hospitals are working to inventory supplies and use the fluid with the most efficiency.

Humility of Mary Health Partners is meeting with staff daily to assess the situation.

HMHP Chief of Pharmacy Barry Shick said the shortage has affected supplies of saline and lactated ringers, which are the two most commonly used intravenous solutions.  Shick said when appropriate, pharmacists and nurses are recommending alternate solutions.

Pharmacists are monitoring dispensing of the solutions to meet immediate needs, and are reserving solutions with extended shelf life for future use in patient care areas limited to the emergency department, surgery and labor and delivery.

Pharmacists are also in constant contact with suppliers to gauge the expected duration of the shortage.

Representatives with Northside Medical Center said they have been evaluating stock levels every day and have an adequate supply on hand.

Michele Hoffmeister, director of public relations at Salem Regional Hospital, said they have been working with saline suppliers and have been able to substitute smaller bags of saline to equal or total larger amounts ordered by patient’s doctors.

“Suppliers have indicated all back orders for saline will be filled in February,”  said Hoffmeister.

John Lepto, director of pharmacy at Akron Children’s Hospital in Boardman, said they have been impacted by the shortage, but it has not affected patient care.

Lepto said there are three alternatives to saline and that other shortages in the past have helped them prepare.

“It has affected us somewhat, we were a little concerned when we first heard about the shortage,” said Lepto. “We have taken steps on how to manage that and mitigate the shortage.”

Officials with Sharon Regional Health System said the hospital system is not experiencing “nor expects to experience” any supply issues with intravenous saline.

Federal officials said addressing the shortage will depend on the increased demand and the manufacturing production of the current suppliers.

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