IV bag shortage during deadly flu season has hospitals hard at work

One of the largest manufacturers of the fluid-filled bags was devastated on hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico.

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH). — IV bags are counted and sorted in the pharmacy of Yale New Haven Hospital. The bins usually full of the critical fluids, drained and in short demand.

Vice President and Chief Pharmacy Officer for Yale New Haven Health, Lori Lee, says it is not just Yale seeing a shortage of IV bags.

“All hospitals are dealing with the shortage,” Lee said. “IV fluids are probably the staple medication that you get when you come into a hospital – they replace the fluids you may have lost and are used for critical care patients and patients in the operating room, among other uses.”

One of the largest manufacturing facilities of the bags is on hurricane-ravaged Puerto Rico, greatly diminishing supplies here in the U.S.

Related Content: Dangerous flu season leaves 5 dead in Connecticut

“That’s where the majority of the United States’ supply comes from,” Lee told News 8.

This is leaving hospitals locally and nationally in short supply as flu season ramps up. Five deaths have already been reported in Connecticut alone.

“We have had daily communication to everyone on what is the shortage or the issue of the day,” Lee said. “The nursing staff has been critical to be trained on these changes as well as the pharmacy staff and medical staff.”

Lee said other medications are used when they can be and IV fluids are reserved for patients most in need. As the emergency department fills with patients being treated for the flu, Yale New Haven Hospital says patient care will in no way be negatively affected.

“We prioritize what fluids are needed and we use them on the most critical patients and I’m sure flu patients would fall into that list of patients,” Lee continued.

Doctors urge those who have not received a flu shot to do so, saying it is not too late.  If you get the flu shot and still get the flu, doctors say the symptoms will be greatly reduced.

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