Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why care about Dedicated Obstetric Anesthesiology in level 3 hospitals in BC?

I'm not an an anesthesiologist. I'm not a hospital administrator. I'm a mom, and by the time the situation changes in Victoria, I'll likely be done having my babies. I guess that also makes me a pessimist because baby number 2 isn't even conceived as of yet - so it reveals how confident I am that the situation will change anytime soon.

I will also say, that my biggest problem with a lack of dedicated obstetric anesthesiology at VGH, Royal Columbian and Surrey Memorial isn't even that it removes the ability of women to reasonably decide whether or not they'd like a surgical birth, or have access to epidural pain relief (although I do believe this is a big issue - that is wrong and should be addressed). These are major hospitals that handle a high volume of births every year and serve high risk mothers. And there is the true rub.

There's a false perception of safety at these hospitals. Women believe that when the cards are down, they'll be able to get the care they need when they need it. If I were a mom who had decided that I wanted to attempt a vaginal birth after c-section - could I be confident that if my uterus ruptured, I'd get access to an OR within the critical timeframe and be saved from the agony of having to bury or care for a severely disabled child who was much wanted? Is it reasonable to think that the anaesthesiologist who is handling other acute cases will be able to drop everything and tend to my needs? Will the back-up anesthesiologists actually be called, will he/she answer the call and provide the service?

It's sad and frustrating. The province claims to be bending over backwards on this and saying the anesthesiologists won't budge. The anesthesiologists claim that its the BCMA and the province who are at fault and not budging to bring their pay up to what colleagues in other provinces receive. The patients are in the middle paying the real price.

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