With personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies continuing to dwindle, the Canadian Medical Association (CMA) is renewing its call for urgent action, pushing for governments to get more supplies into the hands of front-line physicians.
In a survey conducted this week, CMA members reported a stark picture of the state of PPE supplies in Canada. Feedback provided by nearly 5,000 physician members on March 30 and 31 highlight the issues Canadian doctors are facing in supply and distribution, as well as the overall lack of information on how to source PPE:
- Over a third of physicians in community care (e.g., office-based, walk-in clinics) believe they will run out of respirators (N95 masks), eye/face shields and goggles/glasses within two days or fewer, or had already run out.
- More than two thirds (71%) of physicians in community care have tried to order supplies in the past month, and fewer than 15% received confirmation that supplies were en route or had been received. In Nova Scotia, only 2% of physicians indicated that their recent order had been received or was being shipped.
- When it comes to alternate supply sources, one in 10 physicians waiting on supplies was aware of a government source of supply, with the rate being highest in Alberta (26%) and lowest in Nova Scotia (5%) and New Brunswick (0%).
- Physicians in hospital settings were largely unaware how long the current supply in their practice would last and many respondents were being asked to ration supplies.
More action is clearly needed, such as:
- giving health providers in the community contact information to re-order PPE;
- better coordination and transparency between the federal and provincial/territorial governments to ensure supplies are making it to the frontline; and
- ensuring hospital administrators have supply assurances from governments so they can fully deploy appropriate usage of PPE among their providers.
The CMA will continue to work closely with all key stakeholders, including the federal government as well as health care organizations, on a coordinated response to this pandemic.