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Another supply shortfall is affecting health care, including in the Lichai Valley. Some patients undergo tests – Morning call

The continuing global shortage of dye used in X-rays and CT scans is forcing both the Lehigh Valley Health Network and St. Luke’s University to postpone some patient imaging procedures.

Hospitals and health systems lack intravenous contrast imaging, a dye used in imaging tests. LVHN and St. Luke’s have sent out notices or posted on their websites that because of this they are postponing immediate or outpatient imaging procedures that require it.

A statement from LVHN said the network “has the reserves to diagnose the most critical cases, including strokes, heart attacks, injuries and other life-threatening conditions.”

News release from St. Luke says the network’s ability to perform imaging tests that require dye in “all but the most critical cases” is limited until supply chain problems are fixed.

Both networks declined to comment further. Patients whose admission has been delayed will be transferred as soon as supplies return to a more normal level.

Chris Chamberlain, vice president of emergency for the Association of Hospitals and Health Systems of Pennsylvania, said HAP hears that hospitals across the state are dealing with the shortcoming. He said they had not heard how much the shortage affected the work of member hospitals.

Contrast agents are chemicals that are often used to increase the contrast of structures or fluids in the body, making it easier for healthcare professionals to detect abnormalities through medical imaging, such as CT scans, MRIs, x-rays and angiography. Although the type of contrast agent used depends on the procedure, the type used for CT and X-rays is iodine-based and they are deficient.

Deficit is another global supply chain problem that has arisen amid the pandemic, and one of many affected by the healthcare industry. Chamberlain said that during the pandemic the healthcare industry faced a serious shortage of blood and workers. Shortages of raw materials such as silicon and aluminum have also created problems for hospitals.

The shortage is forcing health networks to prioritize the use of contact media for emergencies.

“Our physicians will work with their patients to determine if they can benefit from non-contrast CT or alternative tests such as ultrasound, MRI or nuclear scanning,” Barbara Shindo, a spokeswoman for Penn State Health, said in an email.

North America is the world’s largest market for contrast agents and The continent’s main supplier is GE Healthcare, an American multinational company. Most of the contrast agents distributed by GE Healthcare are manufactured in the Chinese metropolis and manufacturing center of Shanghai.

But because of the coronavirus outbreak that began in early April, China has temporarily blocked Shanghai and some other cities as part of its “dynamic zero COVID” policy. Shanghai’s plants have been temporarily closed, including the plant that supplies the GE Healthcare contrast agent. The blockade also affected some other major suppliers of contrast agents, such as the Italian company Bracco Imaging SPA.

However, the Chinese government has given priority to restarting Shanghai’s industry, and “key industrial chains such as automobiles, integrated circuits and biomedicine have continued to recover and increase production capacity,” according to a May 11 Chinese state media article. . People’s newspaper. Some reports also say resumed work at the Shanghai plant, which produces iodine-based contrast agents but the deficit will continue at least until the end of June and possibly until July.

GE Healthcare and Bracco did not respond to reports of the current state of the manufacturer.

Due to the deficit, which is expected to continue for at least another month and a half, HAP is in talks with the American Hospital Association and other public hospital associations.

“We are certainly watching this to ensure the return of contrast agents for internal administration so as not to observe long-term effects,” Chamberlain said.

HAP also encourages members to use conservation strategies, such as using contrast agents for individual patients and situations, and to expand the search for alternative providers and providers.

LVHN is exploring alternative sources and suppliers for intravenous contrast, the statement said. Both LVHN and St. Luke use other imaging tools, such as MRI, as an alternative when needed.

While it is impossible to predict what could cause a new shortage, Chamberlain said HAP also advises member hospitals to prepare for what may yet happen due to the pandemic.

“It really made hospitals do more than just look at the supply chain,” Chamberlain said. “We were hoping that our suppliers would deliver to us a little on time, and when we had problems, we just made them double them quickly, and that was it. Well, we learned during the pandemic that it’s not good enough. “

You can contact the morning call reporter Leif Grice at 610-679-4028 or lgreiss@mcall.com.

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