Hospitals conserve IV solutions amid national shortage
A national shortage of intravenous solutions has led several area health care systems to put conservation measures in place, representatives said.
“Despite a nationwide shortage of certain IV drugs, we have managed our supplies so that there is no impact on patient care at UPMC,” spokeswoman Wendy Zellner said on Wednesday.
The shortage of large-volume IV solutions — including 0.9 percent sodium chloride injection, or normal saline, and 0.45 percent sodium chloride injection — has been ongoing for months.
One of the culprits is the flu, said the Food and Drug Administration.
Normal saline is administered intravenously to surgery patients and to those in emergency rooms, said Jodi Lech, oncology pharmacy specialist with the Allegheny Health Network Cancer Institute.
“Really, any patient being admitted gets some sort of IV fluid,” she said.
The shortages are not expected to resolve until May or June, according to a statement last week from the Drug Information Resource Center at the University of Utah and the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.
The two groups recommended conserving supplies, including using oral hydration whenever possible, discontinuing infusions as soon as appropriate and using small-volume bags for infusions administered at low rates.
Several health care systems said they are conserving as much as possible.
“With the help of our physicians and pharmacists, we have adopted appropriate conservation measures — such as using oral versus IV fluids in some cases — and substituted other, more readily available items when possible,” Zellner said. “We continue to track and monitor our supplies on a daily basis and will continue to do everything possible to ensure that our patients are not affected.”
Allegheny Valley Hospital in Harrison, which is part of the Allegheny Health Network, has been experiencing a shortage since the fall, spokeswoman Linda Dalak said.
“Careful management and allocation amongst the (network) hospitals has mitigated the risk to our patients,” she said.
In January, the FDA said increased demand from hospitals in flu season triggered shortages of IV solutions, especially normal saline, which is administered for hydration and treatment.
The federal agency was working with three manufacturers to help preserve supplies, it said.
In March, the agency announced it had approved importing normal saline from a supplier in Norway.
Physicians, nurses and pharmacists are working to manage the shortage at Excela Health, spokeswoman Robin Jennings said.
“These include changing to a solution that is not in short supply, reviewing if the IV can be safely removed sooner or the rate of the IV infusion slowed,” she said.
Allegheny Health Network's 17 oncology clinics share supplies, Lech said.
“It cushions the blow a little bit. If we were just a one-office type of oncology practice, it would greatly affect us because we would have nobody to borrow (from),” said Lech, who said the network also benefits from buying power. Purchases of IV bags are based on its buying history, she said.
The network is checking to see what chemotherapy agents can be mixed with solutions other than normal saline, Lech said.
“With these types of things, you have to plan. … The last thing you want to do is have a patient that has a curative cancer not be able to get their drugs in time,” she said.
Tory N. Parrish is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-380-5662. Staff writers Richard Gazarik and Liz Hayes contributed to this report.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Bill that would end district-level review of homeschooling in Pennsylvania goes to Corbett
- Federal grand jury reviewing Liquor Control Board violations, sources tell Trib
- Eric Frein lookalike: I keep getting stopped
- Pa. town can keep Jim Thorpe’s body
- Justice blames feud for his ouster; chief of court admits he did seek to remove him
- AP classes put college-bound students on fast track
- Probation board member in Pa. porn email scandal retires
- Attorneys want ‘Kids for Cash’ figure’s windfall frozen
- Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission urged to strengthen ethics training