Global epidural shortage affects some Toronto hospitals

Some Toronto-area hospitals are reporting shortages of epidural tubes amid ongoing global supply issues.

William Osler Health System confirmed they were experiencing a shortage to CTV News Toronto on Tuesday in a statement, saying they are “working closely with vendors and government partners to secure inventory.”

The hospital network says it has developed an “epidural catheter supply” strategy to meet patient needs in the meantime.

An epidural tube, or catheter, is a thin piece of plastic used to puncture the epidural space in a patient’s spine to administer pain medication during childbirth. On going The global device shortage hit Canada in late July.initially affecting the western provinces more severely, according to the Canadian Society of Anesthesiologists (CAS).

The William Osler Health System is comprised of three hospitals in Toronto: Brampton Civic Hospital, Etobicoke General Hospital and Peel Memorial Hospital.

Lakeridge Health, a network of five hospitals in the Durham region, also told CTV News Toronto that they are facing a “potential shortage” of epidural catheters related to supply chain issues in North America.

“While we have an adequate supply of epidural catheters at short notice, we are working with our partners at Ontario Health and the Ministry of Health, who are actively engaging with Health Canada, suppliers, distributors and manufacturers across Ontario to understand the current situation. situation and supply forecasts,” said Julie Dowdie, communications manager for Lakeridge.

When contacted for comment, other hospitals including Sunnybrook Hospital, Michael Garron Hospital, University Health Network, North York General Hospital, Hospital for Sick Kids and Women’s University Hospital said their patients did not are currently affected.

However, each institution said they are “closely monitoring the situation.”

The Ontario Ministry of Health told CTV News Toronto that it is aware that some Canadian provinces have experienced shortages of epidurals, but said that, at this time, “Ontario has an adequate supply of epidural catheters and women can access epidurals for childbirth”.

While the province currently has sufficient supply, the Health Ministry said they are monitoring inventory to assess the need to redistribute epidural catheters.

“Hospitals will receive instructions on how to assess and report current inventory in the coming days.”

CAS President and Vice President Dr. Dolores McKeen and Dr. Lucie Filteau told CTV News in a joint statement that they recently learned of “a critically low supply of epidural catheters across Canada.”

McKeen and Filteau say that manufacturers have cited supply chain problems as the cause of the shortages.

“Some companies have estimated that supply will improve significantly by September, but whether epidural catheters will be available in all health care settings by then is not yet known,” they said.

According to the CAS, on average, approximately 50 to 60 percent of pregnant women in Canada opt for an epidural during labor.

The society encourages patients to discuss pain management options with their health care provider “to establish the most appropriate plan, based on their individual circumstances and product availability.”

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