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IV contrast shortage impacting Alabama hospitals

Hospitals across Alabama are rationing IV contrast. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
Published: May. 11, 2022 at 9:28 PM CDT|Updated: May. 11, 2022 at 10:23 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WSFA) - The process to receive certain medical imaging, like a CT scan, will look different for many Alabamians, as hospitals across the state are rationing IV contrast.

“It’s a type of material that we can inject that allows things to light up a little better on the imaging,” said Dr. Kierstin Kennedy, interim chief medical officer at UAB Hospital.

Once the contrast dye is in your blood system, it creates a clearer image for doctors examining your body’s internal organs.

Now, there is a shortage after a production facility in China had to shut down due to the pandemic.

Doctors at UAB are having to perform some scans without it.

“In some instances, we might have initially wanted to get a CT scan with contrast, but we can get an answer by doing it without contrast,” Kennedy said. “Maybe the picture just won’t be as clear or as pretty, and so we’re willing to sacrifice that to make sure that we have contrast on hand for those really sick patients that absolutely must have it.”

UAB is postponing some less time sensitive elective procedures.

Baptist Health in Montgomery is also having to save its IV contrast supply for more dire patients. A spokesperson sent this statement to WSFA 12 News:

“There currently exists a global IV contrast shortage. Baptist Health facilities are still providing quality diagnostic imaging services to patients, but we have had to reschedule many elective procedures, such as the popular Advanced Heart Check, to ensure we have appropriate inventories for non-elective and critical needs.”

Experts say this type of rationing ensures everyone receives the treatment they need.

“I want people to have confidence in that, knowing that we’re making these decisions, still with their best interest in mind, still putting them first and their health first,” Kennedy said.

WSFA 12 News also reached out to Jackson Hospital in Montgomery, which said they are “not currently affected by this shortage.” A spokesperson said the hospital does not use the supplier experiencing these issues.

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