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Barium Shortage Leaves Some Doctors Scrambling


UPDATED: Thursday January 24, 2013 5:49 PM

Hospitals are working to make sure that patients get the tests that they need, but a recent shortage of barium is making it more difficult.

Barium, a silvery metal, is mostly mined in China and India, where production has decreased in recent months.

Energy companies use a form of barium, called barite, in oil and gas production. Hospitals use if for a variety of scans.

“We’ve pooled out our own resources within OhioHealth, had inventories from all of our hospitals come to Riverside, and we’ve been delivering them out to other campuses as needed,” said Jason Guagenti, the Director of Radiology at Riverside.

Last fall, Bracco Diagnostics, the U.S. supplier, sent a letter to its clients saying that their products were backordered and that customers could see other supply issues.

Guagenti said that when doctors are unable to get barium, they use other types of tests.

He said that the company told him the that production has started again, but it could be months before the supply is back to normal.

“Across the country, though, it will continue to be an issue until they get caught up with the manufacturing of the product,” Guagenti said.

OhioHealth, Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and Mount Carmel officials said that they have been able to perform medical tests, either using the barium on hand or substituting using other procedures.

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