Nationwide contrast dye shortage affecting healthcare systems across the country
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CHICAGO (CBS) — Growing concern about common medical screenings that can catch things like cancer or heart problems.

A nationwide shortage of imaging solution is putting some of those tests on hold.   CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar with the impact it’s having on major hospitals in our area.

“Do you know the worst place to be during a pandemic? The hospital”

Lucy Cantley is battling colon cancer and being treated in North Carolina.

“So, I have no idea that there was a shortage happening scans are very anxiety-inducing for any cancer patient.”

And to add to the anxiety of her regular CT scans on her most recent hospital visit — Cantley was given less contrast solution than normal due to a nationwide shortage.

“Knowing that the scan isn’t being done like it normally would be just creates more anxiety,” she said.

GE, a major supplier of the contrast dye, was forced to close its Shanghai manufacturing facility for several weeks due to COVID — contributing to the shortage now impacting health care systems and patients around the country.

“There’s certainly is a crisis right now in terms of the CT intravenous contrast. We are trying to conserve the contrast by using less per patient.”

Dr. Jonathan Chung with the University of Chicago medicines Radiology Department says his hospital saw this coming and stocked up on the contrast dye — but supplies are limited, and CT scans are being prioritized.

“If you don’t have an urgent condition, right now, we may ask that you come in later two or three months from now, to get your imaging study.”

Along with the University of Chicago, the CT solution shortage is impacting Advocate Aurora Health.

Edward Elmhurst Health doesn’t use GE as a supplier. Northwestern, and Rush both say their patients aren’t impacted by the shortage.

Nancy Foster with the American Hospital Association says based on public information from GE and the FDA it could be until mid-summer that supply chains are fully restored.

“There is a light at the end of the tunnel it’s a little bit murkier than I would like right now,” she said. 

If you are scheduled for a CT scan and are asked to delay it, you are encouraged to have a conversation with your physician, to discuss the next steps or possible alternatives to a CT scan.

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