- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 22, 2017

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) - Several North Dakota medical facilities are scrambling to stockpile IV bags in response to a nationwide shortage after Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico in September.

Earlier this month, the American Hospital Association said that the national health care system is “on the brink of a significant public health crisis” due to disrupted pharmaceutical manufacturing in Puerto Rico. The island produces much of the pharmaceutical products for the U.S.

In North Dakota, some medical facilities have requested IV bags from the state health department’s medical cache, a reserve of medical supplies, the Bismarck Tribune reported .

Trinity Health in Minot is one of the facilities seeking state assistance. According to vice president Randy Schwan, Trinity Health uses hundreds of IV bags per day, though their products are not manufactured by a Puerto Rican facility.

Schwan said Trinity Health is building up its inventory after growing concern about the shortage. “We wanted to make sure our supply would go beyond weeks and not days,” Schwan said.

CHI St. Alexius Health, on the other hand, is using syringes to deliver medications instead of IV bags to cut down on the volume used.

Trinity Health and CHI St. Alexius Health said they don’t anticipate the shortage to interfere with their patient care.

“We’ve received several calls of concerns from medical facilities in the state,” said Tim Wiedrich, who runs the health department’s emergency preparedness and response section.

He said that at the current rate of consumption, the state’s IV supply will run out in two to four weeks. Wiedrich expects more requests to use the state cache too, unless circumstances improve.

State health department officials are communicating with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration about accessing the national stockpile. Wiedrich said the department is also seeking alternative solutions within the private sector.


Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com

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