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Saline Shortage Growing More Acute

Nervous facilities are trying to stretch supplies.

Published: January 31, 2014

Healthcare providers are resorting to using smaller IV bags and, in at least one case, asking the government to consider releasing emergency stockpiles to deal with a worrisome shortage of IV saline, says the Washington Post.

In response to an Outpatient Surgery Magazine InstaPoll question, 57% of our 341 respondents say they, too, are experiencing shortages.

FDA officials say no healthcare providers have run out of the solution, as far as they know, but the agency has heard from dozens of facilities expressing concern that supplies are running low, in part because a recent spate of flu cases increased demand. Manufacturers told the FDA in late 2013 that they expected delays in filling orders.

Baxter HealthCare, Hospira, and B. Braun Medical say they've increased production to try to meet demand and the FDA is also looking into using overseas suppliers. A spokeswoman for Baxter tells the Post that the company is "manufacturing solutions at maximum capacity in amounts exceeding those of prior years and … making investments to further increase supply in 2014." In the meantime, says the company, it's managing inventory to supply customers that have the most critical needs.

Jim Burger

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