ER doctors urged to avoid drugs used to ventilate COVID-19 patients

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OTTAWA -- The Canadian Association of Emergency Physicians is calling on its doctors to protect the limited supply of certain sedatives and painkillers needed for patients on ventilators.

Putting a patient on an artificial breathing machine, as happens with people severely sick with COVID-19, usually requires a sedative like propofol, and painkillers like fentanyl and morphine.

The association warned Canada could have a critical shortage of those drugs in the coming weeks.

But those drugs are also commonly used in emergency rooms, and the association has urged emergency doctors to consider using alternatives.

The group has also called on federal and provincial governments to review the existing stock and keep doctors informed.

The group says the government also needs to manage the national supply of those vital drugs, and create incentives for domestic production to avoid shortages.

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