Lehigh Valley

IV bag and fluid shortage strikes hospitals, doctors get creative

Hospitals go through hundreds of IV bags and fluids everyday.

Since Hurricane Maria hit there has been a national shortage, so hospitals like LVHN and St. Luke's are having to get creative to treat patients.

Belle Marks of the Allentown Health Bureau says the flu has hit early and hard this season.

There's been more than 1,000 cases in the Lehigh Valley and 18 deaths across the state, with 12 being recent.

"Hospitals are seeing a lot more activity in the ER, urgent care, doctor offices," Marks added.

LVHN Director of Pharmacy AnnMarie Higgins says the hospital has to sometimes get creative when treating a patient in need of fluids.

"If we don't have a bag to put the fluid in we can easily use a syringe and we have done that with various drugs," she explained.

The nationwide shortage stems from Hurricane Maria. The storm knocked out a factory of Baxter, a major IV bag manufacturer.

However, Higgins says there was a shortage prior to Maria and hospital staff meets regularly to prepare a game plan so patients can be treated with the same level of care.

"We will look at what fluids we are short on and see if a drug can be made with an alternate fluid," she explained.

Staff here say some hospitals, not in Pennsylvania, have had to postpone surgeries because of the bag shortage.

The good news for area hospitals, however, is the Bethlehem-based medical manufacturer B. Bruan makes the bags to help with local supplies.

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