CoxHealth reschedules appointments to accommodate to imaging dye shortage

The nation faces a shortage of imaging contrast dye. And CoxHealth is making scheduling adjustments to accommodate the lack of supplies.
Published: Jun. 1, 2022 at 7:16 AM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) -The nation faces a shortage of imaging contrast dye. And CoxHealth is making scheduling adjustments to accommodate the lack of supplies.

CoxHealth executives expect to see a 10% reduction in supply over the next month. Patients can expect to have appointments rescheduled to accommodate the shortage.

“We’re looking at smoothing our schedules,” said Chief Medical Officer Shawn Usery. “So those patients that are bunched up here in the beginning of the month, we may reach out to some of them and ask them to move later in the month. As a supply comes in, we’re matching the supply that’s coming in with the demand that our patients need. We would obviously only reach out to those routine elective studies that are being rescheduled. Nothing that is urgent or emergent or critical would be rescheduled”

CoxHealth executives say they are doing everything they can to ensure patients get the care they need while conserving the supply.

“Patients that are being rescheduled and know that we’re working with their provider to make sure that that rescheduled appointment does not interfere with their care,” said Usery. “If it’s somebody who’s having a CT scan today for an appointment three weeks from now, we’re going to move that appointment that CT scan closer to that appointment.”

One of the ways the hospital is accommodating to the shortage is seeing if alternative tests can be given to patients that don’t use the contrast dye.

“We put in multiple strategies,” said Usery. “The first thing is working with our providers and understanding. Is this a study that must have IV iodine contrast, or is this something we could do a different type of study for so instead of doing a CT scan? Could we have done an MRI which does not use iodine contrast instead of a CT scan? Can we do an ultrasound or even a Nuclear Medicine Study? All of these we have more than adequate supply of, so can we just move this volume off with CT.”

The iodine contrast commonly used in CT scans is in short supply thanks to a COVID-19 lockdown of a manufacturing plant in China. During that shutdown, the factory was not producing the dye, but hospitals continued to use the product leading to the shortage.

Cox officials say that the shortage is only expected to last a month, but they do have plans in place should it last longer. Mercy spokesperson Sonya Kullman says that Mercy Hospitals are not currently facing any shortage issues.

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