PB health care agencies say they’re ready to weather saline shortage

In light of a nationwide saline solution shortage, Jefferson Regional Medical Center officials say the hospital is feeling the pinch but not in a threatening way.

“JRMC has been affected by the saline shortage, but not when it comes to patient care,” said Lisa Rowland, JRMC spokeswoman, in an email. “We’ve had to seek out different sources for obtaining saline, but we’ve not had any problems getting the proper amounts and we have never failed to have the supplies that our patients need. We are in daily contact with our IV fluid rep to discuss our product inventory levels and our needs, and we have a contingency plan, which includes even more resources. While we may have to work a little harder to secure saline, we’re confident that we will have no problem meeting the needs of our patients.”

A spike in the number of people coming down with illnesses during this past flu season has been cited as the cause of the shortage.

Ten other Pine Bluff medical agencies, suppliers, hospices, retirement and nursing homes were contacted to gauge how the national crisis has been dealt with locally, and all staff contacted said they’ve had no issues or problems receiving the saline they need for cleaning wounds, treating dehydration and other medical uses in their day-to-day operations.

Staff at Trinity Village Retirement Community said even if procuring saline did become a pressing issue, they are well stocked with wound cleanser, which would be used in the place of saline.

The Food and Drug Administration released the following update concerning the shortage on their website:

“In response to the ongoing shortage of 0.9 percent sodium chloride injection (normal saline), Baxter Healthcare Corp. of Deerfield, Ill., will temporarily distribute normal saline in the United States from its Spain manufacturing facility. FDA is temporarily exercising its discretion regarding the distribution of Baxter’s saline product from Spain and Fresenius Kabi’s saline product from Norway as needed to address this critical shortage, which poses a serious threat to patients.

“FDA inspected Baxter’s Spain facility where its normal saline product is made to ensure the facility meets FDA standards. FDA asks that health care professionals contact the Baxter directly to obtain the product.

“In addition to these sources of normal saline, U.S.-based manufacturers — Baxter Healthcare Corp. , B.Braun Medical Inc. and Hospira Inc. — are currently producing and releasing normal saline. Baxter’s saline product from Spain will be distributed temporarily in addition to Baxter’s FDA-approved version that is currently manufactured and distributed in the United States.

“While the shipments described above will help reduce current disruptions, they will not resolve the current shortage of 0.9 percent sodium chloride injection. Preventing drug shortages is a top priority for the FDA, and we are doing everything within our authority to improve access and alleviate this shortage.”