Hurricane damage in Puerto Rico creates IV bag shortage at Dallas hospitals

One of the unforeseen consequences of Hurricane Maria is a shortage of IV bags produced in Puerto Rico.

Hospitals across the nation are dealing with a rapidly shrinking supply of those bags after a major manufacturer's facility in Puerto Rico was knocked offline.

Hospitals like Parkland can go through thousands of the mini IV bags in just one month. Staff at the Medical City Dallas pharmacy are strictly monitoring use of the mini IV bags that are used to dilute drugs like antibiotics and administer chemotherapy. Medical City is also shifting to oral administration and diluting meds in larger bags when possible.

“The terrible crisis in Puerto Rico had some impacts that no one could have predicted,” said Dr. Ken Rothfield, Chief Medical Officer.

Hurricane devastated Puerto Rico is responsible for 10 percent of all drugs consumed by Americans. Baxter, a major manufacturer of the mini IV bags, has three facilities there knocked offline for days. On Tuesday the head of the FDA said many pharmaceutical plants on the island are now running, but at minimal levels.

The American Medical Association said the worsening shortage of critical medical products like small volume IV bags is "quickly becoming a crisis and threat to public health."

First responders like Fort Worth-based Medstar says its closely monitoring the situation even though they aren't as dependent on small IV bags.

“If you want a saline bag that you can mix medications with it might come specifically from the Puerto Rico plant which has not impacted us,” said Mike Potts, Medstar.

Officials at Baxter did not respond to attempts to find out when the shortage would be eased.

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