8 notable hospital supply shortages of 2023

While the supply chain stabilized as COVID-19 ebbed, thousands of drug delivery devices, syringes and eye drops fell into shortage in 2023. Here are eight noteworthy shortages from the past 12 months:

Editor's note: The list is organized by Becker's publication date. 

1. 2 deaths spur recall of 19.7M drug delivery devices

Smiths Medical recalled more than 19.7 million medical devices after two deaths, 25 injuries and 10,672 incidents were reported, the FDA said Feb. 2. 

The Continuous Ambulatory Delivery Device administration sets and medication cassette reservoirs were pulled from the market because of a tubing blockage and a false alarm that prevented use of the pumps. 

2. Eye drops linked to bacterial infections recalled: 6 things to know

The manufacturer of EzriCare Artificial Tears, which was linked to a drug-resistant bacteria outbreak, recalled the over-the-counter eye drops in February. The CDC advised people to stop using the eye drops after it infected 55 people in 12 states. 

One person died and five of 11 people who had eye infections lost vision in at least one eye.

3. FDA acknowledges tourniquet shortage, suggests conserving supply

The FDA confirmed localized tourniquet shortages June 5 and recommended healthcare workers ration supply, use alternative products and reuse sterilized devices. The product in shortage — non-sterile, single-use pneumatic tourniquet cuffs — are used in emergency and trauma settings and elective limb surgeries, the agency said. 

4. Damaged Pfizer plant update: Warehouse bears brunt; hospital market share is 8%

Up to 50,000 pallets of medications made at Pfizer's Rocky Mount, N.C.-based manufacturing plant were destroyed in a July 20 tornado. The facility accounted for 8% of U.S. hospitals' market share of sterile injectables. The drugmaker listed 65 medications at risk of new or worsened shortages because of the event, and production restarted in September. 

5. Fire damages Medline plant in Pennsylvania

About a month after a tornado ripped through the Pfizer plant, a fire broke out at one of Medline's manufacturing plants in Monroe County, Pa. No workers were harmed and operations quickly resumed. 

6. 18K saline vials recalled after they were accidentally sent

Medline Industries pulled 18,000 units of its saline solution Hudson RCI Addipak because they didn't meet sterility standards but were "inadvertently shipped to customers," according to an FDA database. 

The units were "dispositioned for scrap" but were accidentally distributed. The FDA did not say why the vials did not meet sterility standards. 

7. Avoid syringes made in China, FDA says

The FDA began an investigation into China-made syringes in November because of reports of them breaking and leaking. Millions of syringe products are currently in chaos

The agency recommends healthcare workers prioritize syringes manufactured in other countries. Glass syringes, pre-filled syringes, and syringes used for oral or topical purposes are not part of the quality control concern. 

8. Philips recalls MRI machines due to explosion risks

Philips North America recalled 150 MRI machines in the U.S. due to explosion risks. 

Two models of the Panorama 1.0T HFO MRI scanners were affected by the recall, and Phillips began notifying customers Nov. 20, urging them to discontinue use. The risk of explosion is related to a blockage issue with the machine that can cause an excessive pressure buildup of helium gas during a quench procedure.

"Philips is actively reaching out to customers to ensure awareness of the notification, and to schedule and carry out system inspections as expeditiously as possible," a spokesperson told Becker's Dec. 21.

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