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Monday, September 26, 2022

Patients Can Expect Prolonged Wait Times for Imaging Treatment of Cancer and Other Conditions

Mr. Quintos, who is 53 years old and lives in Chicago, has ongoing stomach discomfort. He is now being treated in the hospital, where his physicians have tried everything, including antibiotics, antacids, and even removal of his appendix. Mr. Quintos said that he was still experiencing discomfort in his body.

It is recommended by his physicians that he have a CT scan with contrast, which is a kind of imaging that makes use of a particular dye that is often injected into patients in order to better examine their blood arteries, intestines, and organs such as the kidney and liver.

However, because of a nationwide shortage of the imaging agents that are required for the procedure, hospitals have been forced to ration these tests except in the case of medical emergencies. This shortage is the result of a recent lockdown in Shanghai that was carried out to put an end to a Covid outbreak

An estimated fifty million contrast agent examinations are conducted annually in the United States, and as many as fifty percent of the country’s hospitals are now experiencing a scarcity of contrast agents. Some people are keeping the majority of their supply on hand in order to utilise it in emergency rooms, which are the places where the need for rapid and precise evaluations is the greatest.

The recent lack of availability of an essential imaging agent is the most recent illustration of the nation’s susceptibility to interruptions in the global supply chain as well as its excessive dependence on a relatively small number of producers for such essential goods. GE Healthcare, a division of General Electric that is one of two main providers of iodinated contrast materials, operates the Shanghai factory that has been forced to stop down as a result of the lockdown. The United States receives both the Omnipaque and Visipaque dyes that are produced by the firm.

The lack of contrast media is “simply astonishing,” according to Dr. Robert Califf, commissioner of the United States Food and Drug Administration, who testified before a Senate committee on Thursday. He continued by saying, “Someone who has had a stroke or heart attack wouldn’t be able to have an angiography.” He was referring to the fact that some members of Congress had lately suffered from major ailments.

In the beginning of this month, the F.D.A. was informed that there were shortages of the dye, and it said that it was working closely with producers “to assist minimise the effect on patients.” Even though GE Healthcare said this week that the situation was improving now that the facility had reopened, it is possible that supply shortages and delays for patients may continue long into the summer. This is due of a delay in how fast new supplies can be supplied.

According to a statement released by her office, Washington Democrat Senator Patty Murray is putting pressure on the agency to provide details about the measures it is doing to solve the issue. In addition to this, she is a co-sponsor of a bill to improve the supply chain that has been submitted with Senator Richard Burr, a Republican from North Carolina.

When hospitals were inundated with Covid patients, they faced sizeable backlogs to get tests, and elective procedures were cancelled or postponed for months because of the pandemic. Health officials and doctors are concerned that the low supply and prolonged waits for tests will exacerbate earlier delays in care caused by the pandemic. In numerous instances, patients’ health has deteriorated because they either ignored concerning new symptoms or were unable to obtain follow-up visits despite their best efforts. Because of this, some physicians have seen an increase in the number of cancer patients whose illness has progressed to a more severe stage.

In addition to employing contrast with a CT angiography to assess whether or not a patient has a blood clot or internal bleeding, physicians often depend on CT scans with contrast to detect infections, intestinal obstructions, or malignancies in their patients. In addition, several heart catheterizations are being postponed by the medical staff.

According to Fulvio Renoldi Bracco, the company’s chief executive, Bracco Imaging, which is the other producer based in Milan, said in a statement that it was working to deliver supplies even to hospitals that were not customers in order to shore up use for “critical emergency procedures.” This was stated in the statement. In a statement, he stated that Bracco had also requested the FDA to consider allowing the possible importation of a comparable agent that was not yet licenced for use in the United States. He mentioned this in the statement. The organisation refused to comment on the request that was made.

Nancy Foster, vice president of quality and patient safety policy for the American Hospital Association in Washington, a trade group, compared the current situation to the limited availability of oxygen and other treatment machines and remedies during the pandemic. She made this comparison in order to illustrate the severity of the problem. The organisation has requested that G.E. provide further details about the scarcity of resources.

Jonathan James
I serve as a Senior Executive Journalist of The National Era
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