Local hospital says it's cautiously optimistic about nationwide IV fluid shortage

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - The Chief Medical Officer of Children's Hospital in New Orleans says he's cautiously optimistic when it comes to the IV fluid shortage affecting the nation right now.

"They've restored power to one of the major plants in Puerto Rico the last week of December. We're hoping that's going to ameliorate the shortage in this region. Our flu season has been bad, but not as bad as some people so we're not seeing the big G.I. flu that some folks have seen," said Children's Hospital Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Heaton.

Hurricane Maria's impact on Puerto Rico is responsible for the saline shortage. The storm damaged most of the plants that produce IV fluid bags there.

"The biggest thing nationwide is the lack of saline solution, and people are struggling with that so we've put some conservation measures in place. For instance, we don't send out a case of it at a time. We're being kind of stingy with it so people don't waste it. But we have not had to alter our practice whatsoever," said Heaton.

In a statement, FDA Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb said they "continue to take additional steps to identify other supply sources for saline."

In the meantime, Children's Hospital says it has been fortunate.

"We talk about this every day at our safety briefing, and where we stand on this because of the acuity of it nationwide. But again, we're cautiously optimistic we're going to be able to maintain. We're not seeing anything in the forecast that it's going to get worse before it gets better," said Heaton.

The FDA commissioner also says they "expect that the shortage of IV saline fluids will improve in early 2018, with continuing improvements in the weeks ahead."

We also reached out to Ochsner Health System about the shortage. They released this statement:

"While the critical shortage of IV bags to deliver medication to patients has impacted healthcare organizations across the country, Ochsner Health System has not experienced a disruption in patient care as a result of this shortage. We quickly established daily huddles with key staff and leadership to develop plans to address this challenge. Patient safety is always our top priority, and we are working proactively to address this need and will continue to monitor the situation closely." - Ochsner Health System.

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