Alberta doctors raise alarm on specialist staff shortages in intensive care wards

·1 min read

EDMONTON — The Alberta Medical Association says the province's high COVID-19 numbers are behind a desperate shortage of specialized staff to care for critical care patients.

The association says demand for intensive care nurses is so great, the number of patients assigned to each nurse has been increased, putting the level of care well below normal standards.

The group says the situation could lead to triage protocols, in which doctors must make on-the-spot decisions about who gets life-saving care.

The concern is raised in a public letter from the association's intensive care doctors about the health crisis that has left Alberta's hospitals overwhelmed with patients, many of them with COVID-19.

Dr. Paul Parks, the medical association's head of emergency medicine, said last week some critical care patients are not being put on available ventilators because there aren't enough medical workers to monitor them.

Alberta has asked the federal government for help, and the Canadian Armed Forces has said it will respond with eight more intensive care nurses and air transport to take critical patients to other provinces.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 27, 2021.

The Canadian Press

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