Nationwide Shortage of IV Solution Affecting Local Medical Services

4 years 3 months 3 weeks ago Wednesday, January 24 2018 Jan 24, 2018 January 24, 2018 9:30 PM January 24, 2018 in News

PHARR – Hidalgo County Emergency Medical Services are scrambling to stock their shelves with IV bags.

CHANNEL 5 NEWS started tracking the shortage of IV bags in November of last year.

The reason behind the shortage comes from the main supplier of the product being based in Puerto Rico. The island is still recovering from the destruction left behind by Hurricane Maria.

Hidalgo County EMS takes in more than 2,000 calls a day and dispatches for 300; 90 percent of emergencies.

They operate with 55 ambulances and two helicopters. The main lifesaver comes in bag known as a normal saline solution, or NS.

Reymundo Mendoza, assistant director of operations at Hidalgo County EMS, said they’ve been struggling to receive NS from suppliers.

“Our vendors have been in national backorder, meaning that they're not producing enough for the demand that's out in the field.”

Field supervisor for Hidalgo County EMS Tony Shatto used to carry the solution in his work truck. He's resorted to giving his share to ambulance crews.

“They're going to use it on their scene and I should have some, but we're so low that I don't have any to put on here,” said Shatto.

The company used to buy normal saline from one vendor, but after Hurricane Maria, they’re now up to six.

Due to the shortage, they have to use a substitute formula, known as a lactated ringer.

The problem with lactated ringer is that it can't be administered to all patients because it’s made up of ingredients that can have negative health impacts on a critical patient.

Normal saline, on the other hand, can be used all the time. For now, first responders are forced to be selective with who gets the limited supply of NS.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, the shortage should ease over the next few months.

The FDA is allowing IV bags to be imported from other countries such as Canada, Mexico, Ireland and Italy.

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