Medical centers deal with shortage of IV bags

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HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) – Hospitals everywhere are dealing with an unexpected shortage of IV bags, and experts say hurricanes Maria and Irma are partially to blame.

When the storms hit Puerto Rico last September, it disrupted production at one of the island’s major manufacturers of IV bags.

That caused a ripple effect of IV bags and various medication shortages at hospitals across the country.

Baxter International Factories produces the saline bags and nutrient solutions, and also supplied IV bags to Conway Medical Center.

Puerto Rico’s power grid is being slowly restored and production at the last three Baxter International factories was restarted just before Christmas.

However, irregular power outages are still slowing Baxter’s efforts to get back to full production. Only a few companies make the solutions and IV bags, which makes it a nationwide problem.

Dr. Paul Richardson, the chief medical officer at Conway Medical Center, said the patients’ safety is always No. 1, so the staff is able to use different methods to combat the problem.

“Just using IV fluids that are equally as effective and may be in bigger supply also, we’ve made some changes in the formulation of our medication, how we deliver them,” Richardson said. “It’s more labor intensive for us and actually costs more, but if it puts the patients’ safety No. 1, then that’s what we are all about”

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