Saline, which is commonly used in the field of medicine, has been the subject of concern due to shortages in some hospitals lately. A saline solution is a mixture of sodium chloride and plain water. It also has many applications in the medical field such as the solution used for removing specks of dirt from contact lenses.
Usually, when a patient is admitted into a hospital, a saline solution is injected into the vein for a variety of purposes. But the main purpose is for the rehydration of the patient. Additionally, the bag has a built-in mechanism to make infusion of other medical solutions easier and faster.
Hospitals and medical staff sometimes scramble for supplies especially when their stocks are running low. Saline solution is one of the most commonly used products in any medical facility. During such a shortage, medical healthcare providers advise the hospital staff to opt for smaller IV bags if possible. They may also encourage to use other alternatives to help cope with the shortage.
Perceived shortages usually happen when there are outbreaks. Example will be when the flu season hits or when an outbreak of other highly contagious sicknesses breaks out.
One instance of a shortage back in 2014 has prompted one hospital to take the matter into their own hands and demand the government to release saline from their stockpile of emergency supplies. This was reported by a senior executive of the American Society of Health-System pharmacists.
Dialysis Centers Use Saline Solutions for All Their Patients
Another medical institution that can be heavily affected by the shortage of saline solutions are dialysis centers. Being a vital part of the Dialyser system used for dialysis, it is risky for patients to undergo the procedure and then have a shortage of saline solutions.
The saline solution in a dialyser is the agent that is used to cleanse the blood of the patient, which is why it is a vital medicine for all dialysis centers. As a result, centers are now stockpiling their saline supplies and are also looking for alternative ones.
The FDA Mitigates the Shortages
As a result of the vital part of saline solutions in the medical world, the FDA has been working with the largest manufacturers of intravenous saline solutions to remedy and prevent any future shortages. Supplies from abroad are also being considered especially if shortages worsen.
Meanwhile hospitals throughout the country are taking preventive measures of their own to prevent a shortage in saline solution. Some of them are using smaller IV solutions when possible reporting that patient care is not affected by this.
Saline Shortages Spikes When Calamities Strike
One volatile factor that can cause a sudden shortage in saline solutions is when natural or man-made calamities strike. During such disheartening events hospitals and medical institutions scramble to save lives and provide care for all those affected, which could easily mean depleting the stockpiles of saline solutions they have prepared.
One such unexpected event that just recently occurred was when a hurricane hit Puerto Rico which houses the top producers of saline for the country. After the hurricane some hospitals and dialysis centers reported having some minor shortages in their saline solution supplies.
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