TORONTO — Several Ontario hospitals say they are preparing for potential shortage of epidural catheters as the province takes steps to track the inventory of the devices used to provide anesthesia during childbirth and some surgeries.
Lakeridge Health in Durham Region said it's facing a potential shortage of epidural catheters related to supply-chain issues across North America.
The health network, which consists of five hospitals, said it's working with the government of Ontario to address the issue, but notes it has an "adequate supply" for the short term.
Niagara Health said it's taking steps to manage its supply of epidural catheters, as well as conserve and share resources, in light of the global shortage.
The health unit said it also identifying alternative vendors.
"The medical team will work with each patient to assess their situation and determine pain management options," the health unit said in a statement.
"Hospitals across Ontario are facing similar pressures due to ongoing supply-chain issues, and we will continue to respond to these challenges."
William Osler Health System, a network of three hospitals in the Greater Toronto Area, said it has been working with suppliers and government to secure inventory and mitigate the impact on its services.
The health network said it has developed an epidural catheter supply strategy and continues to monitor the situation.
Ontario's health ministry said the province currently has an adequate supply of epidural catheters, but it will work with hospitals to track inventory and assess the need for redistribution of the devices when possible.
"Recently, some Canadian provinces have experienced shortages in the availability of epidural catheters due to supply chain issues," spokesman Bill Campbell said in a statement.
The ministry said hospitals will receive instructions on how to assess and report on current inventory in the coming days.
Meanwhile, the provincial agency Ontario Health is working with Health Canada, suppliers, distributors, manufacturers and other partners to "understand current and future supply" and "support a provincewide approach to equitable access to supplies," Campbell said.
The agency is also convening a clinical working group to advise on the issue and what's needed to offset potential effects on patient care, he said.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 10, 2022.
Maan Alhmidi, The Canadian Press