IV bag shortage has some hospitals scrambling to treat flu

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Xcel Energy says crew members from Texas and New Mexico service areas will soon be on their way to help restore power in Puerto Rico, where hundreds of thousands of residents remain without power months after Hurricane Maria devastated the area.

Bernie Sanders. They said that the crises facing Puerto Rico that has become a life and death one following Maria actually pre-dates the hurricane itself.

Diaz said some of the students have extended family in Puerto Rico and so the visit is not only a way to help but to get a firsthand view of how the island is recovering. "You never know what you're going to get", Chen said.

"And what we made a decision to do was aggressively change people from IV meds to oral meds, when was appropriate and when there was equivalent opportunity to do so", said Dr. Bunch.

Local hospitals and clinics are using alternative methods to hydrate sick patients. "If this continues the current trend, we are anxious that this will stress our system and make us run out of IV fluids", Dr. O'Neill Britton, chief medical officer at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, told NBC News. Mercy Medical Center in Springfield is also being affected. "But it is affecting our man hours and how much stress it is on our staff - our nursing staff".

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"We worked on a line that was close to 90 some miles and right in the middle was where the hurricane came through, and we had to put that back up in the air, and that took us about a week", he said.

On the positive side: Hospitals may find ways to permanently reduce use of saline bags.

Hospitals have been substituting pills for IV-administered drugs when possible, changing dosing schedules or injecting drugs directly into a vein, what's called IV push.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said last week it believes shortages will start to ease over the next few weeks, but stressed "the production situation in Puerto Rico remains fragile".

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