Mississippi hospitals and clinics feeling impacts of global IV contrast fluid shortage

Published: May. 11, 2022 at 10:23 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - You’ve heard about new supply chain issues a lot lately.

Now, one is impacting hospitals and doctor’s offices around the world. A COVID-19 lockdown impacted production at a GE plant in China that makes most of the world’s IV contrast fluid supply.

“This is a CT angiogram of the patient’s chest,” said Dr. Clay Hays. “You can see the contrast of the heart.” It’s one of many instances where IV contrast dye is used, he explained.

“The contrast is used to better identify structures, say in the heart or the blood vessels,” noted Hays, President of Jackson Heart Clinic. “And so it helps separate from sharp edges that contract on the images so we can see what’s going on inside the body. It’s really neat technology.”

But with the short supply...

“We’re having to change the thought process about how we do workup,” added Hays. “Obviously, we’re keeping the contrast, mainly for emergencies. But, you know, some elective cases, we’re going to still have to do with contrast, but we may be able to do other things with like MRI, or nuclear scanning or something like that.”

UMMC has worked to minimize the impacts after learning about the impending shortage in March. And they stockpiled what they could of the product.

“You can imagine at a place like UMMC, that we have about a dozen different sites that administer contrast on a daily basis,” described Britt Crewse, CEO of UMMC Adult Hospitals. “We are also then looking at, How much do we have on on site today? How much more do we need to get through the six to eight weeks? And if it extends longer than that... are there some alternatives the American College of Radiology has some guidelines that they have put into place that they recommend all hospitals, go ahead and put into place if in fact, this does last longer than six to eight weeks.”

While UMMC says it hasn’t changed operations yet, they have at South Central Regional Medical Center where they’re trying to reserve it for emergency cases.

“Our biggest concern is it is constraining normal practices, which are the best practices we know off to make accurate diagnosis so that we can get the best treatment for patients,” noted SCRMC Chief Medical Officer Dr. Mark Horne. “And this supply is constraining that.”

We checked in with some other area hospitals and received the following statements.

“In response to the impact of global shortages of iodinated contrast media, St. Dominic’s is making some adjustments for contrast studies and conserving supplies for the patient care where contrast is most critical. We are continuing to receive contrast media, however the supply is limited. Our physicians are excellent care partners and will continue to work with our health system supply chain team to mitigate the impact,” said Paul Seago, MD, Co-Chief Medical Officer, St. Dominic Hospital.

“While the supply for this product has diminished, it has not affected patient care at our hospitals. Surgeries are continuing as scheduled,” stated Baptist Memorial Hospital and Health Care Services.

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