WHY A SALINE SHORTAGE HAS SUCH A LARGE IMPACT ON HOSPITALS
Sterile Saline Is Very Difficult To Make
Despite saline solution being an inherently simple solution, it and other iv solutions are still very complex to make. The biggest challenge when creating this, or any pharmaceutical grade solution, is ensuring that the product itself is completely sterile. On average, it takes about three weeks to create a batch of saline from start to finish, a process that includes more than 30 different steps and a wide variety of complex supplies. In addition, the entire process requires very close oversight from the FDA to ensure that anything that will be being administered intravenously is absolutely safe for humans.
There Is Little Opportunity to “Ramp Up” Production
Due to the strict requirements and guidelines for producing a sterile saline solution, as well as the approval and oversight required by the FDA, it is very difficult for a manufacturer to ‘ramp up’ or increase their production of saline solution. In addition, there are also huge costs associated with the materials and machinery required to properly create these sterile solutions. Based on the same rationale, it is also very difficult for a new company to easily enter the production market of saline and other sterile solutions meant for intravenous use. As a result, this means that hospitals and pharmacies must do things like develop new clinical protocols for the proper usage and conservation of these solutions. For example, many hospitals are having dehydration patients transition to drinking water to complete their rehydration more quickly than they would’ve previously. And while the FDA has recently relaxed some of its guidelines regarding allowing for the importation of saline solution from manufacturing facilities outside of the USA that had not been previously approved, there is still only so much that can be safely allocated to the United States market.
Saline Shortages Typically Impact Every Department Within A Hospital
Unlike other shortages that may only impact one department of a hospital, for example, a shortage of a specific cancer treatment drug, every department within a hospital typically utilizes saline in a variety of ways. Not only does a saline shortage cause unnecessary strains on all of the hospital's departments, but it also creates additional problems for hospital administrators and staff that need to allocate quite a bit of additional time and money into the management of the reduced supply. In addition, many hospitals are forced to delay or reschedule certain procedures like elective surgeries which would require the use of a sterile saline solution, as these supplies need to be reserved for mandatory and emergency surgeries and procedures.
Wolf Medical Supply carries a wide variety of medical supplies that can assist your hospital or medical center in the safe handling of saline solutions as well as tools that you can use to better deliver saline solutions to your patients, allowing for your organization to utilize and break down larger supplies of saline in to more individualized dosages that would be more appropriate for a wider variety of uses. If you have any questions about the best medical supplies and iv supplies to meet your needs, please reach out to one of our experienced sales representatives to help you select the best tools for your situation.