How the IV Bag shortage is affecting the Ames community

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Garmon said the hospital does have a plentiful supply of the smaller IV bags but short in supply of the larger size bags.

The current flu season is exacerbating the problem.

Hurricane Maria ripped through Puerto Rico with wind speeds up to 175 miles per hour last September. Hospitals use hundreds or thousands daily to hydrate patients and to dilute antibiotics, painkillers and other drugs, then hang bags from a pole so the mix slowly drips through a tube and into a vein.

"If we can't support patients coming in emergency rooms who have the flu, more people are going to die", predicts Deborah Pasko, director of medication safety and quality at the American Society of Health System Pharmacists, a professional group.

On another front, a shortage of IV bags after a key manufacturer was crippled by the hurricane in Puerto Rico has some hospitals scrambling.

Several noted a cascade effect, with new shortages created as hospitals all try the same workarounds.

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Saint Alphonsus and St. Luke's say they are mainly suffering from a shortage of the smaller volume bags used to give IV medication that must be diluted before it can be administered to a patient. And Baxter International was given the OK to temporarily import sterile fluids from 6 overseas factories.

"With the shortage of some of these bags what we've had to do is do what the pharmacy would call compounding".

Also speaking to the AP, Connie Sullivan of the National Home Infusion Association noted that her members have been forced to seek alternative methods of treating patients, though few options are available.

"We're assessing patients every shift to see if they're taking foods by mouth or eating, if they're drinking and if they need IV fluids. But we have not had to alter our practice whatsoever", said Heaton.

"Things will be a little bit different, but they should not see any change in their care", she said.

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