For Immediate Release: January 11, 2018
Jorge Amselle, firstname.lastname@example.org
Naples, FL— Since 2014, U.S. hospitals have been facing intermittent shortages of saline IV solutions, necessary for patient health. Hurricane Maria, which devastated much of Puerto Rico’s infrastructure last year has exacerbated this shortage to a far greater extent. As anyone who has ever been admitted to a hospital for treatment knows, the intravenous saline drip is standard therapy and the fastest way to deliver fluids and medications throughout the body.
Hospital saline doesn’t just keep patients hydrated; it delivers a 0.9% solution of salt, which is composed of two essential elements, sodium and chloride. Without this saline drip, patients can end up with low levels of sodium in the blood resulting in a condition known as hyponatremia. This serious condition can lead to seizures, coma, permanent brain damage, respiratory arrest, and death, and it is why the shortage of saline in hospitals is of such critical importance.
Ironically, while a 0.9% salt solution doesn’t sound like a lot, at two or three liters per patient per day on average, when factored in with the salt in the meals they’re served, hospital patients get five to 10 times the amount of salt the US Government Dietary Guidelines currently recommends. Of course, hospitals continuously monitor their patients’ health including blood pressure, making sure it remains within the normal range, which it does.
Puerto Rico is a major producer of hospital IV saline solution and the slow pace of recovery on the island, particularly to its electrical grid is having a significant impact. A statement by FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, M.D., addresses his agencies efforts to help restore manufacturing levels on the island.
“…the medical products industry has a significant presence in Puerto Rico, and the disruption to this industry has had ramifications for patients both on the island and throughout the U.S. …We’re taking steps to mitigate or avert product shortages but we’ve still seen shortages of certain medically important products, some of which are sourced primarily or only in Puerto Rico. Most significantly to date, hospitals across the country are reporting shortages of IV fluids, particularly sodium chloride 0.9% injection bags – a type of saline bag. Saline IV fluids, which are used to inject drugs intravenously in hospital and outpatient settings, have been intermittently in shortage dating back to 2014. However, despite our best efforts, the situation in Puerto Rico has greatly exacerbated this supply issue. The FDA understands the concerns and impact of the ongoing shortages of IV solutions.”
The hospital practitioner’s current alarm over any shortages that might interfere with the delivery of this level of saline to patients should bring the minimal levels of salt consumption that are recommended by the Dietary Guidelines into serious question. Hyponatremia already affects more than 6 million people annually in the US, particularly the elderly who are fed low-sodium diets. While some individuals are salt-sensitive and could benefit from low-sodium diets, they represent a minority of the population. Efforts by federal and state governments to institute population-wide salt reduction initiatives are misguided and potentially harmful.
The Salt Institute is a North American based non-profit trade association dedicated to advancing the many benefits of salt, particularly to ensure winter roadway safety, quality water and healthy nutrition.