[The Almagest]

A shortage of IV saline in hospitals in the United States is causing alarm with hospital officials and management. The frightening part about this shortage is that saline gets used so often in hospital settings that it’s nearly impossible to do without it. Doctors and staff have been reduced to asking their hospital employees to use smaller IV bags and make do with substitution solutions whenever possible. United States hospitals have reported shortages, yes, but none have reported a complete outage yet. According to recent reports in Mid-January, hospitals are stating they only have a few full days worth of solution left in stock, so they’re conserving with all their might.

Saline is used intravenously to treat dehydrated patients, to set “knocked out” teeth to save for reimplantation, nasal irrigation, rinsing contact lenses, and more. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now in talks with their suppliers to address the concern and try to find a solution before the shortage leads to a possible disaster. Although the shortage is a major problem, hospitals have learned how to deal with the shortage and find ways to get by on a day-to-day basis.

For example, in cases where saline solution isn’t a necessity, doctors and their staff are able to set aside what they do have in supply for the people who need it most. One of the way doctors have found to conserve saline solution levels is to use a slower IV drip rate. Another is to use smaller bags, and although patients aren’t getting fully adequate levels of saline, they can make do with at least some to get them by.


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