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Health news and issues in the Ozarks.

Hurricane Maria Results in Pharmaceutical Shortages Across the Country, Including Springfield

Marissa Anderson

Hurricane Maria damaged more than 100 drug and medical device manufacturing facilities on Puerto Rico, according to an NPR report.  Because of that, hospitals are having to find ways to deal with shortages of certain drugs and medical products. 

"We have been impacted primarily in regards to small-volume I.V. bags," said Jennifer Reeves, operations director for pharmacy services at CoxHealth.

Those are 250 or fewer milliliters, which are most frequently used for antibiotic administration.  She said they’ve had difficulty obtaining them, "and have been exploring other options for the delivery of medications that would normally be done via these I.V. bags."

For example, they’re purchasing pre-mixed antibiotics when they can. 

They're also seeing shortages of injectable medications used to treat seizures, anxiety and pain.  Those include benzodiazepines such as ativan and diazepam and opiates such as morphine, fentanyl and dilaudid.  They’re administering those in pill form when a patient is able to take medications orally. 

"We are trying to reserve those medications in the injectable form for patients that truly need the injectable form, they can't take a tablet," Reeves said.

Patient care has not been disrupted due to the shortages, according to Reeves.  She expects some shortages to end by next month, and some could last well into 2018.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.