An ongoing shortage of fluids used to deliver medicine and treat dehydrated patients has hospital workers scrambling in the midst of a nasty flu season and supplies from factories in storm-ravaged Puerto Rico have been slow to rebound. Supplies of saline and nutrient solutions were already tight before hurricanes pounded Puerto Rico and cut power to manufacturing plants that make much of the U.S. supply of fluid-filled bags used to deliver sterile solutions to patients.

Flu season has turned out to be a bad one and it came early, bringing patients in need of fluids into hospitals already running low. Hospital officials, pharmacists and other staff have been devising alternatives and workarounds, training doctors and nurses on new procedures and options, and hitting the phones to try to secure fluids from secondary suppliers. READ MORE