A shortage of epidural catheters worries Quebec

A shortage of epidural catheters used in childbirth is hitting Canada due to supply chain issues affecting all Canadian suppliers “without exception” and Quebec is bracing for the potential fallout.

The Association of Anesthesiologists of Quebec (AAQ) took stock in a note to its members, asking them not to panic but alerting the Federation of Medical Specialists of Quebec and the Department of Health. Health Canada has also been notified.

It is believed to be a sterilization issue affecting Canadian suppliers such as Teleflex, B. Braun, Smith and BD. There is no Canadian manufacturer for this product.

AAQ invites its members to assess their stocks of epidural catheters, plan future orders and measure their weekly consumption in light of the uncertain situation.

The Department of Health is also conducting a census at all Quebec hospitals to determine inventory levels and future needs.

“We have stocks in some plants for more than a month. Some facilities have it for less than a month. We are already anticipating that we may have to share the catheters,” explains the Dright Nikola Joly, President of AAQ.

Because of this shortage, the association is urging its members to consider an alternative method to relieve women during childbirth, particularly through patient-controlled remifentanil anesthesia should the catheters leak.

– Listen to Patrick Déry’s interview with Dr. Nikola Joly, President of the Association of Anesthesiologists of Quebec, on QUB radio:

Store expired catheters

Anesthesiologists are also asked not to throw away expired catheters, “but using them at this time is not recommended.” Limiting the use of epidural catheters is not recommended.

The Dright Joly is reassuring. “There are other solutions emerging to avoid having to decide who gets an epidural or not,” he says.

The Department of Health is in particular in discussions with a supplier to find replacement catheters. You must obtain approval from Health Canada prior to import and use.

According to Teleflex, a leader in multi-port catheters, supply is expected to return to normal by the end of August 2022, but nothing is confirmed.

“I want to reassure pregnant women that we must not limit the use of catheters. We’re looking for problems. We will get through without making any compromises,” assures the Dright Pretty.

Darren Pena

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