Survey: Saline shortages affecting 3 out of 4 hospitals

February 12, 2014

Saline shortages are affecting three out of four hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the country, with nearly 30% of these facilities not having adequate supplies to meet patient needs, according to a survey by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists.

Saline shortages are affecting three out of four hospitals and healthcare facilities throughout the country, with nearly 30% of these facilities not having adequate supplies to meet patient needs, according to a survey by the American Society of Health-System Pharmacists (ASHP).

ASHP recently conducted an online survey of pharmacy directors regarding supplies of sodium chloride solution 0.9%. Seventy six percent of respondents reported a shortage of saline IV products. More than half (53%) said conserving saline was working, but 29% said their facility’s saline supply was not adequate to meet patient needs.

"While the survey does not point to patients being harmed as a result of the shortage, such a severe shortage of this widely used intravenous solution is extremely concerning,” said ASHP CEO Paul W. Abramowitz, PharmD, ScD (Hon.), FASHP. “Hospital and health-system pharmacists are working very hard to provide the most effective care to patients during this shortage, and it is important that all stakeholders work together to solve this crisis.”

Not only are hospitals and healthcare facilities struggling with obtaining adequate supplies of saline solutions, but survey respondents also reported shortages of alternatives such as Lactated Ringers solution and dextrose/sodium chloride combination solutions.

Survey respondents reported that the areas most affected by the saline shortages are surgery and perioperative care, emergency care, hematology/oncology, and dialysis.

They reported that their hospitals or healthcare facilities have been forced to switch patients to alternatives, change patient doses, prioritize patients based on clinical factors, or even delay treatment for some patients.