IV team at the Health Sciences Centre

December 12, 2017

On December 5th, I received an email from Jan Wold. She receives intravenous immunoglobulin at the Health Sciences Centre once a month to boost her immune system. For the past 12 years, the process has been consistent with nurses on the IV team injecting a local anaesthetic to eliminate the pain, and then promptly starting the IV needed.

This past September, the process changed when the Pallister government decided to cut the IV team at the Health Sciences Centre. Jan was told the IV team had been disbanded and that she would no longer receive the local anaesthetic. Since this happened, the procedure has become more difficult, and painful as nurses who don't have enough practice starting IVs, often require more attempts before finding the vein.

I was shocked to learn that the Pallister government cut such a vital service. I believe that it makes sense to have the high-quality IV team we had, so that we have the most experienced people possible starting IVs, thus reducing the stress and pain from this process. I raised my concerns in Question Period at the Legislature on December 7.

As a physician, early in my career, I started many IVs. The needle pokes from starting an IV hurt, and if several tries are needed before an IV is started successfully, it can be very painful and stressful for both the patient and the nurse. Using a local anaesthetic makes a difference in reducing pain.

Winnipeg based anesthetist Dr Judith Whitford has emphasized in writing to me that "The loss of the IV team will drastically increase the cost of supplies per IV start (in IVs, alcohol swabs, gauze, tape) and will increase the time before an IV is placed (with several personnel, many calls, many tries) and has added to the cost of starting IVs in terms of consultation fees for anesthetists, and more fragmented care to other patients as anesthetists are called away from their other duties."

I hope the Pallister government will reverse its decision to cut the IV team at the Health Sciences Centre. I have shared Jan Wold's story with the Minister of Health, and I have asked him to restore the use of a local anaesthetic for patients receiving IV treatment at the Health Sciences Centre.

Have you or your family been affected by Pallister's cuts to healthcare in our province? Please share your stories with me by email at jon.gerrard@leg.gov.mb.ca


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