MOBILE, Ala (WKRG) — A new shortage due to COVID-19 is making some hospitals in Alabama postpone procedures.
IV Contrast is used in procedures like CT Scans and MRIs and it’s in short supply. The University of Alabama at Birmingham reports COVID-19 shutdowns in Shanghai, China is the cause of the global shortage of intravenous contrast.
CEO of Springhill Medical Center Jeffery St. Clair said, “Unfortunately, the vast majority of them come from GE and the Shanghai plant is closed.”
If you’ve ever had a CT scan or an MRI, there’s a good chance you’ve had intravenous contrast. St. Clair explained why doctors use contrast. He said, “You can get a better picture if you inject the patient with contrast and what the contrast does, it goes into your intravenous system and it gives the x-ray equipment a more vivid, brighter picture of your anatomy and physiology and how it is working.”
He said there are different types of contrast. St. Clair said, “So in some cases, we might have two weeks’ worth on hand and in other cases, we might have two days worth on hand.”
He continued, “There are some substitutes we can use, but the contrast shortage is overwhelming what all hospitals and imaging centers use.”
St. Clair said Springhill Medical Center is saving as much contrast as the healthcare group is able. He told WKRG News 5, so far they’re not canceling any procedures at the hospital.
But this week UAB announced it’s postponing certain elective imaging procedures due to the shortage.
WKRG News 5’s Dana Winter asked, “Do you foresee the possibility of having to reschedule things and possibly cancel things if this persists?”
St. Clair responded, “While that has not happened in Mobile to my knowledge, I think that’s a very real possibility.”
UAB reports the IV contrast shortage is expected to last through at least June 30th. St. Clair said an end to the shortage by that time sounds very optimistic.
CLICK HERE to see the official report from the FDA about one of the medicines in the shortage. CLICK HERE to see the other official report from the FDA about the other medicine experiencing shortages.