Area hospitals part of national IV solution bag shortage

Several area hospitals are part of a nationwide shortage of a few pharmacy supplies, like IV bags. (WKRC)

CINCINNATI (WKRC) - Several area hospitals are part of a nationwide shortage of a few pharmacy supplies, like IV bags.

Hospitals, including those with Mercy Health and TriHealth, said they have had to manage IV bag supplies carefully in recent months.

Pharmacists say it's just the latest product concern they have had to balance as part of everyday operations.

When you visit the in-patient pharmacy at Good Samaritan Hospital now, it's clear the team that provides patient medications works seamlessly to provide lifesaving products people need. But just a few months ago, many of those products, delivered to patients in IV bags, were in short supply.

"We were managing it [hourly at the time]," said Desmond Waters of TriHealth's pharmacy.

Waters says the problem escalated as bad weather began hitting areas where the bags are made.

"When it really, really hit was after Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico in October," he said.

That led to the need to find new solutions to the IV solution bag shortage quickly.

"The IV solution is used for a variety of ways--to hydration, to chemo, antibiotics in it," said Waters. "Well with a shortage like this, we had to come together in a group and decide: Can we change the solution; can we give it another formulation; what are our options?"

So what did they decide to do?

"There's been a lot of things; one of the biggest is that we've actually brought in some international product," Waters said.

Waters says the irony is that on any given day, they could be managing any number of shortages for multiple medicines. It's where systems make a huge difference in healthcare.

"Typically on an ongoing basis, we are managing between 50 and 60 drug shortages as a system," Waters said. "We meet weekly on drug shortages: How are we doing; what drugs do we watch; do we need to notify; do we need to make changes?"

The changes made so far have worked, he said.

"As a team, we did fantastic. It wasn't easy, but we have weathered the storm very well," Waters said.

The team at TriHealth manages five area hospitals. They said as far as they know, this has been seamless for patients.

St. Elizabeth Healthcare said they have not had a shortage, and UC Medical Center has not commented to Local 12 on a shortage at this time.

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