Running low on IV bags, hospitals find ways to save resources

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BISMARCK, N.D. - Hospitals across the country are feeling the effects of an IV bag shortage. Hurricane Maria disabled a major factory in Puerto Rico and an early flu season is stressing an already low stock. Here in Bismarck, hospitals are having to get creative with the supply they have until more is available.

At CHI St. A’s, shelves are stocked with life-saving fluids for hospital patients, something that's been hard to come by.

"The amount that we are able to order each week from our wholesaler was decreased by about 40 percent,” said Pharmacy Operations Manager Kristy Vadnais.

With a major supply line cut in Puerto Rico, Vadnais said the hospital had to start conserving resources wherever they could. That meant mixing more and more medication.

"That has caused a lot of increased work for our sterile prep room and the amount of work our staff have to do in order to prepare,” said Vadnais.

The nationwide shortage is even effecting the North Dakota Department of Health, which sent supplies to 4 different hospitals around the state including St. A's in Bismarck. But the department says help is on the way.

"There's a couple more factories in the United States that came online and the stuff from overseas that was approved by the FDA to come in, should be hitting the markets here shortly so we're hoping in the next 2-3 weeks to be seeing some relief,” said George Gerhardt with the North Dakota Department of Health.

"Most of the product we are able to buy is overseas. They're allowing a lot more product in and that's definitely helped us. We're hoping that by the end of January, things will start to look a lot better,” said Vadnais.

Vadnais says the amount of supplies they can order has already increased.

In a statement Sanford Health says "Like most other health care systems, Sanford Health has experienced the effects of this nationwide IV fluid shortage. However, our organization's size has allowed us to manage and conserve our supply in way that hasn't caused any disruption to patient care."

Gerhardt added that said that the department still has the supplies needed to respond to a large scale emergency event.