LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Arkansas hospitals say a national shortage of IVs is the worst they've ever seen since Hurricane Maria devastated Puerto Rico in September and knocked out a key plant that manufactures the medical equipment.

The Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reports that state hospitals are using syringes, pills and new ready-to-use products instead of IVs whenever possible to conserve supplies.

The American Hospital Association sent a letter to federal officials earlier this month, asking them to work with manufacturers to find new suppliers. The group also said the situation was "quickly becoming a crisis and a looming threat to the public's health."

State hospitals say that despite the shortage, it won't prevent patients receiving needed care.