Metro Doctors Had to Get ‘Creative’ During IV Bag Shortage

DES MOINES, Iowa  --  Doctors in the metro say flu season should be winding down--at least in Iowa--but there is still a shortage of IV bags, which are used to hydrate patients and administer medicine, especially to flu patients.

In the latest flu report, the Iowa Department of Public Health stated 250 people died from the flu this season.

“It’s been a very active flu season. We saw a lot of sick people, but luckily over the past couple of weeks we’ve seen our numbers really start to drop off. Early in the season, influenza A was most active, but over the last month or so influenza B cases really started to pick up,” said Mercy Hospital Dr. Jeff Brock.

Brock said patients with serious flu symptoms often need IV bags to re-hydrate, but according to the FDA there is still a nationwide shortage of sodium chloride, which is also known as saline.

“Most of it really had to do with the hurricane season and taking out some of the manufacturing plants," said Brock. "Our flu season here didn’t really impact our shortage overall."

Brock said the patients' care hasn’t been affected too much, but they had to get somewhat creative because Mercy hospital goes through about 1,800 IV bags per day.

“We had to shift around some of our IV products. So some of the medications we give in IV fluids we had to switch what kind of IV fluids we put them in. We are able to take larger bags that were available and, you know, make the smaller intravenous size to meet our needs to give medicines or just hydration in general,” Brock said.

The FDA said in a statement in February it is optimistic that saline supplies will continue to improve over the coming weeks.

“The fluid shortage is easing somewhat, too," said Brock. "So we are seeing improvements on availability of the different IV fluids, so we are hoping it’s coming to and end shortly."