A nurse anesthetist pumps an anesthetic product using a syringe (photo of illustration) - Jack Guez AFP
Suspended since mid-March, non-emergency surgical activities will not resume 100% by summer due to a persistent shortage of anesthetics, Secretary of State Adrien Taquet said on Tuesday. "Tensions over anesthetic drugs necessarily impact the resumption of surgical activities and the return to normal will not take place before the summer," he told the National Assembly.
The government had ordered "immediate off-schedule for non-emergency procedures" on March 12, just before confinement, to free up as many intensive care beds for coronavirus patients. In mid-May, once the epidemic wave had passed and the deconfinement started, several unions of liberal doctors and the federation of private clinics had asked for the lifting of this ban.
A “gradual restart”
The Minister of Health then authorized the establishments to "reprogram operations", but only "in regions where the virus circulates (has) little, and according to the occupation of the resuscitation services and the resources available". However, the state has arrogated since the end of April the monopoly on the purchase and distribution of five drugs (two hypnotics, three curares) because of "extremely strong supply tensions".
In this context, "before resuming 100% activity, in order to exclude any stock shortage, we are rather considering a gradual restart," explained Adrien Taquet. The government has "asked regional health agencies to exchange, to define how quickly the resumption of heavy surgery should be scheduled, depending on the supply of drugs necessary for resuscitation," he added.
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