Hospitals in the United States are on high alert, with some doctors prioritizing patients in critical condition as the prolonged COVID-19 lockdown in Shanghai has caused a global shortage of chemicals used in medical imaging.
Some of the largest U.S. hospitals said earlier this month they were facing significant shortages of iodinated contrast media products, which are dyes given to patients so that their internal organs and vessels can be picked up by CT scans, X-rays, and radiography.
The dwindling supply was due to the temporary closure of the production facility of General Electric’s health care unit in Shanghai, a trade hub that has been locked down for nearly two months. Though the factory has been allowed to resume operation gradually, the Greater New York Hospital Association warned that an 80 percent reduction in supply might last through the end of June, according to a May 5 statement.
Some hospitals have started to conserve use of the medical dye. For example, the University of Alabama at Birmingham Health System said they activated a response to aggressively ration the supply of intravenous contrast to address the shortage, according to a May 7 statement. The efforts mean doctors are prioritizing urgent scans and postponing elective tests.