US officials predict shortages of critical hospital supplies

WASHINGTON (AP) — Government officials are warning U.S. hospitals that they could soon face shortages of critical surgical tools and equipment because of the closing of sterilization plants.

The Food and Drug Administration said Friday that the issue could result in years of shortages of hospital supplies such as catheters.

The problem follows the recent closing of facilities that use a chemical that’s been increasingly restricted in some states. The chemical is used to clean an estimated half of all sterilized medical devices in the U.S. It can cause cancer at elevated levels.

Earlier this year, Illinois authorities closed a large plant owned by Sterigenics near Chicago after detecting high outdoor levels of the gas. This month the company announced the facility would not reopen.

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