Saline shortage has hospitals scrambling as flu hits

Saline shortage has hospitals scrambling as flu hits

- in Health
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A saline solution shortage worsened by Hurricane Maria has hospitals worried, even as staff turn to creative solutions such as breaking out the Gatorade.

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.

And as flu season starts to kick into high gear, hospitals and clinics worry the demand will get pushed over the edge.

“This is a serious situation and right now we are at the limits of our conservation and adaptation strategy,” said Dr. Paul Biddinger, director of the Center for Disaster Medicine and vice chairman for emergency preparedness at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

“We have seen an increase in the number of flu cases compared to last year. If this continues the current trend, we are worried that this will stress our system and make us run out of IV fluids,” added Dr. O’Neill Britton, chief medical officer at Mass General.

“There has been a surge, over the past couple of weeks in the number of patients that we’ve been seeing with the flu,” agreed Dr. Eitan Dickman, vice chair of emergency medicine at Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn.




Image: Nicholas Spileos, age 64, of South Weymouth, Massachusetts

Nicholas Spileos, age 64, of South Weymouth, Massachusetts was admitted to Mass General Hospital with a hearing loss due to Meningioma for which he had surgery. He would normally have an IV for dehydration during recovery but instead is currently being treated orally with Gatorade.