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Woman says she was denied sedation due to OHIP fee cuts

Theresa Boyle — Hamilton Spectator — June 30, 2012

When Sharon Phillips was wheeled into the operating room at Oakville Trafalgar Hospital on Monday, she was prepped and ready to undergo cataract surgery.

When her ophthalmologist was about to start the procedure, 65-year-old Phillips nervously stopped him with a question: “Wait a minute, where’s the sedation?”

She was shocked to find out there wouldn’t be any, and then angered when reportedly told that it was because of recent OHIP fee cuts to “conscious sedation,” a procedure that involves an anesthetist giving intravenous medication for pain, anxiety or comfort. Patients stay awake but are dozy.

“My doctor was very upset he had to put patients through the procedure without sedation,” said the retiree. “My doctor did say later that this is why doctors in future will be refusing to do any cataract surgery because it’s dangerous.”…

Ophthalmologists are among the angriest of doctors over 37 changes to the OHIP fee schedule that were unilaterally imposed by the province in May after negotiations with the Ontario Medical Association fell apart. Some of those cuts are due to come into effect Sunday, including a combined fee for conscious sedation which drops to $60 from $120.

Some ophthalmologists have warned they may have to stop doing cataract surgery because the cuts could result in patients not getting sedation, something that could be risky. Nervous patients could end up moving during the very delicate surgery and that could result in blindness, they warn.

Conscious sedation fees are paid to anesthetists, not ophthalmologists. But some anesthetists have said that because of the cuts, it may no longer be financial feasible to participate in cataract surgeries.

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