DC area hospitals work to manage nationwide IV fluid shortage

Getty Images/Paul Tearle
WASHINGTON — Local hospitals are making adjustments to accommodate a nationwide shortage of supplies of IV fluids used to deliver drugs and treat dehydration.

“Just like pretty much the entire country, we’re managing these IV shortages,” said one of the pharmacy managers for the Inova Health System, Arpit Mehta.

Several measures are being taken to conserve as many fluids as possible, he said.

  • Supplies are now centrally located for better inventory control.
  • Some patients are being switched to oral medications when it’s clinically appropriate.
  • Some operations include the use of direct injections of drugs instead of hanging an IV fluid bag.

Patients might not even notice those and other adjustments that are being made, Mehta said, “because we do a lot of that on the back end.”

The shortages are because the primary manufacturer of the IV fluids, Baxter, has plants in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration expects that supply levels will improve over the next few weeks.

Many in the health care field, Mehta said, are asking Congress to consider regulation changes to prevent something like this from happening again.

“The question is, do we make a regulation where we don’t allow manufacturers to be in this situation? Do we have multiple plants across the country where we can move the production to if there’s a natural disaster in one area?” Mehta said.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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