Ontarians have been protesting the Ford government's cuts to essential services a lot recently and it seems that one protest, in particular, is starting to stand out. One woman is calling on Ford to be the first Ontarian to have a colonoscopy without sedation. Karen Jutzi initiated a petition called "Doug Ford: Ask Doug Ford to be the first Ontarian to have a colonoscopy without sedation". The petition obtained over 65,000 signatures as of Friday morning and is well on its way to achieving its goal of 75,000.
The petition states, "We think it's only reasonable that if Ford believes that colonoscopies would be more "efficiently" administered in Ontario without sedation, then he as the Premier of Ontario should lead the way and be the first to take the plunge."
Jutzi continues on to explain, "He's a good sport and I'm sure with a little probing he'll be happy to lead the way and squeeze it into his schedule if we get enough signatures. Please sign to support this cause and share." The petition has been widely distributed since it surfaced on the internet last week.
In the wake of the Ford government's sweeping funding cuts to the province's social services, healthcare coverage in Ontario represents just one of the many government-financed programs that will be impacted by the province's push toward fiscal austerity. According to CityNews, the provincial government hopes to save a total of $500-million from reducing the number of OHIP-covered services offered to Ontarians.
Countless procedures are currently under review by an "appropriateness" working collective (consisting of government officials and physicians from the Ontario Medical Association) to determine which medical tests ordered by doctors should be deemed unnecessary, overused or inappropriate.
Since doctors did not have a contract with the province for the last several years, the OHIP services have not been carefully reviewed since a new contract was agreed upon in February.
Colonoscopies are one of the diagnostic tests that are under consideration. The discussion surrounds whether or not anesthesiologist-assisted sedation is appropriate during colonoscopies - a service that currently costs the province $16-million, City News points out. According to government documents, anesthesiologist-assisted colonoscopies has increased 500 percent over the last ten years.
"It is unthinkable to have a colonoscopy without sedation. It's a very uncomfortable, invasive procedure, so its extremely critical that patients are very comfortable when they are having this procedure." Eric Thompson from Crohn’s and Colitis Canada tells City News.
But in fact, the Ford government isn't calling on healthcare providers to stop sedating colonoscopy patients altogether. According to the Ontario Association of Gastroenterology, most endoscopic procedures are performed with the patient under moderate sedation, defined as "conscious sedation", which can be administered by other healthcare professionals such as gastroenterologists or nurses. Deep sedation, on the other hand, which is used for long and complicated colonoscopy procedures, requires sedative agents like propofol, requires the involvement of a nurse anesthetist or anesthesiologist, and is 2 to 3 times more costly than conscious sedation.
Nonetheless, Ontarians are speaking out against the proposed amendment to the province's colonoscopy sedation guidelines. So Premier Ford, if this petition actually enacts change, I guess you can say you’ll be open for business.