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KRS Global Blog

National saline shortage affecting local hospitals

OMAHA, Neb. —A short supply of a common medical product is affecting hospitals locally and nationwide.

Saline solution is used every day in the emergency room or in the back of a rescue squad, but it’s in such short supply, local hospitals are ordering it from Spain.
“This sort of thing is something that is frustrating for physicians across the board. It doesn’t matter the specialty. When it’s something you use frequently, in this case on a daily basis, we don’t have, yes, it gets frustrating. Luckily, there are some alternatives,” said Dr. Paul Schenarts, chief of trauma surgery at Nebraska Medical Center and physician medical director of the Omaha Fire Department’s EMS.
Doctors are unsure when production will pick up, but they do know how valuable it is to have on hand.
“Patients who are dehydrated, bleeding, didn’t have appropriate blood pressure,” Schenarts said.
Schenarts said it is common to have a drug shortage but not saline solution. In January, the Federal Drug Administration attributed the shortage to flu season, but now, Schenarts said the situation is in part centered on manufacturers.
“Companies have a tendency to try to make medications that have a higher profit,” he said.
Schenarts said the $1.05 liter of saline is now selling for $9-$10 because the demand is so high.
Hospitals and first responders are using alternatives, which doesn’t put anyone’s life at risk. It just draws a little more stress to emergency situations.
“Our response has been exactly that — give it to the patients that need it, don’t give it to the patients who don’t,” Schenarts said.

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