Alaska hospitals experience IV fluid shortage
It's a problem hospitals have been experiencing throughout the U.S.: a shortage of IV fluids -- which is also affecting some Alaska hospitals.
The shortage has its roots in Puerto Rico, where almost all the IV fluids that are used in the U.S. are manufactured in a single lab. The business, Baxter Puerto Rico, was heavily damaged during Hurricane Maria in the fall and has not been able to keep up with demand.
Andre Neptune, director of pharmacy at Providence Alaska Medical Center, said the shortage has proved challenging for pharmacy workers. The bags filled with saline solution are used for many different things including re-hydrating patients, but their primary use is to administer medications to patients through a drip. Neptune said when certain sizes of IV bags aren't available, it makes it harder to do the job.
"It causes a lot of worry for us because now drugs that we would normally deliver using this system or that system we have to deliver in a different way," said Neptune.
Neptune said the hospital has figured out ways to work around the problem, but it's a challenge every day.
"There's an operations team in pharmacy of six or seven people, and every day it's a full-court press trying to figure out if we have to adjust this, how do we do it differently?" Neptune said.
The shortage has brought extra work for staff but Neptune said patients probably haven't noticed.
"Patients are not experiencing any different level of care because of this," he added.
Providence isn't alone in experiencing the shortages. A spokeswoman for Alaska Regional said the hospital is also dealing with the same issues.
On Thursday, the head of the Food and Drug Administration, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, announced that the lab in Puerto Rico was back on the electrical grid with plans to pick up production as fast as possible.
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