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5 Medical Shortages Happening Right Now

Hospitals are running out of these essential items.
FACT CHECKED BY Emilia Paluszek

Supply chain issues are causing major issues in US hospitals, with standard and essential medical supplies either limited or delayed. "There are probably hundreds of outages of items that we order that do not come in. Many of those things on a daily basis don't show up," says Lori Lee, senior vice president of clinical operations at Yale New Haven Health, which includes five hospitals. According to Lee, doctors and nurses are forced to search for substitutes and have to be trained to find the correct items. "This is not really like Coke and Pepsi. It's a massive, massive effort every day that we're really struggling with." Here are five medical shortages happening right now, according to the FDA. Read on—and to ensure your health and the health of others, don't miss these Sure Signs You've Already Had COVID.


Examination Gloves

woman patient in a medical mask puts on protective surgical sterile gloves on her arm

Latex and vinyl gloves are in short supply, warns the FDA. "The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic triggered unprecedented increased demand for some medical devices, as well as significant disruptions to global medical device manufacturing and supply chain operations," says the FDA.


Surgical Gowns

Covid-19. Female nurse puts on protective gloves. Personal protective equipment in the fight against Coronavirus disease.

Surgical gowns are limited due to supply chain issues. "Due to industry-wide supply disruptions, stockpiling has become essential for healthcare resilience," says Jim Boyle, executive vice president of medical supply company Medline.


Diagnostic Exam Dye

Radiologist looking at the MRI scan images.

Dye used for CT scans is being rationed due to supply disruption from a major plant in Shanghai, China, which has been under strict COVID-19 lockdown. "The shortage has hit us fairly acutely," says Geoffrey Rubin, MD, chair of the Department of Medical Imaging at the University of Arizona College of Medicine.


Lab Testing Equipment

Scientist examining a test-tube in a laboratory

Laboratory testing equipment such as pipette tips and swabs are also in short supply. "[Health systems are experiencing] 8-10 times higher shortages than they were pre-pandemic," says Kyle MacKinnon, senior director of operational excellence for Premier, a group purchasing company. "We are seeing more frequent short-term shortages than we ever have in the past."



Close-up of covid-19 infected patient in bed in hospital

"There's currently thought to be a global shortage of thousands of ventilators as the world attempts to tackle the deadly pandemic," says Shrinidh Joshi, PhD. "Medical device manufacturers rely heavily on health care facilities for their clinical trial data collection… As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, medical device companies are finding it difficult to make informed decisions about their products, supply chains, and regulatory obligations in the midst of uncertainty."

Ferozan Mast
Ferozan Mast is a science, health and wellness writer with a passion for making science and research-backed information accessible to a general audience. Read more about Ferozan
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