Ongoing issues in supply chain networks around the globe, due largely to the lingering effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, continue to cause disruptions to critical medical procedures in the U.S.

Doctors in the United States are prioritizing only the most critical patients and hospitals are rationing supplies of a crucial drug after a covid lockdown in China temporarily closed a GE Healthcare factory that is a vital source for a key ingredient in medical imaging.

The shutdown of the facility in Shanghai in April halted production of contrast media, an iodine solution that medical staff inject into blood vessels to allow a device such as a CT scanner or fluoroscope to see inside the body. Contrast media, also known as dye, is used virtually every hour in hospitals across the country to help measure arterial blockages around the heart, guide placement of stents in catheter labs, diagnose and treat strokes, and more. Oncologists use contrast to monitor cancerous tumors.

But with contrast supplies dwindling because of the manufacturing shutdown halfway around the world — part of stringent Chinese covid policies that kept workers at home and forced factory closures — doctors at many U.S. health systems are scrambling. They are prioritizing the most seriously ill patients and postponing more routine tests for those who can safely wait until contrast stocks are replenished.

Read the full article at the Washington Post.