COVID-19 Joint statement from Canadian Medical Forum
The Canadian Medical Forum (CMF) brings together leaders of Canada’s major national medical organizations to discuss issues of priority to physicians, their patients, and the Canadian healthcare system. I am writing today on behalf of the 10 CMF official member organizations, the 3 observer organizations, and the thousands of physicians working tirelessly to fight the COVID-19 pandemic across Canada. While we do not set or seek to set standards of care, we do, however, strive to inform Canada’s leaders when actions are needed to positively impact physicians, their patients, and the Canadian healthcare system. The response of federal, provincial and territorial governments and health agencies to the COVID-19 crisis has been admirable. We commend these organizations for working to ensure health professionals have the information, tools, and resources they need to identify, report and manage potential and confirmed cases of COVID-19. The cooperation of the various organizations is a testament to their commitment to deliver safe medical care for Canadians and help mitigate the consequences of the current pandemic.
However, it is increasingly clear that additional government actions are needed now to encourage ramping up manufacturing and to guide the appropriate use and reprocessing of personal protective equipment (PPE) by healthcare providers.
To effectively curb the spread of COVID-19 across Canada, the CMF and its members urge federal, provincial and territorial governments and public health agencies to collectively:
- mobilize Canadian production of vital PPE,
- create standardized recommendations for PPE use across all COVID-19 circumstances, and
- in times of shortage, develop standardized advice on the reprocessing and reuse of PPEs.
The current unavailability and uncertainty about the appropriate use of PPE is posing significant risks to patients, their families and healthcare providers. Each day, physicians and other providers at the frontlines are grappling with challenges brought about by insufficient supply of PPE. While the scarcity of all PPE is alarming, frontline physicians are particularly concerned about the risks posed by the shortage of surgical masks (which help to prevent droplet spread of COVID-19) and N95 respirators (used daily for aerosol generating procedures in emergency departments and operating rooms). Additionally, many hospitals, clinics, and testing centres are uncertain as to when and how to use PPE, sometimes using improvised and unproven solutions. Finally, in the absence of clear instructions, institutions are developing their own potentially ineffective PPE reprocessing steps (disinfecting, cleaning, remanufacturing, testing, packaging, labeling, and sterilization, etc.), or using PPE beyond the manufacturer and industry recommended timelines for safe and effective use.
Across Canada, governments and healthcare agencies are working diligently to help healthcare providers deliver safe and efficient healthcare and slow the spread of COVID-19. Thank you. We acknowledge and appreciate your efforts.
We call on governments to immediately develop guidelines to support best practices in PPE use by healthcare providers and mobilize Canadian PPE production in order to protect healthcare providers and limit the spread of the disease.
Dr. Cecil Rorabeck
Chair, Canadian Medical Forum
PDF Version: 2020-03-31 Canadian Medical Forum