Iron Infusions in Vancouver

Patients have been asking us about the process of getting iron infusions in this city and why in the past it has taken so long.  We thought we’d use this post to to explain how things have typically been done in the past and highlight how Mainline might be able to help those “stuck” in the system.

For patients with iron deficiency anemia who require iron infusions, their treatments have typically been administered in medical daycare centers located in our public hospitals.  To qualify for hospital IV iron infusions, patients need to be referred by a specialist that has referral privileges.  Hematology, Anesthesia and Nephrology make up the bulk of IV iron referrals.  Once referred for IV iron by a specialist, the hospital will triage each referral based on need, etc and then book you in for your appointment.  Often these medical daycare centers administer multiple different infusions in addition to iron. Other infusions given include chemotherapy, blood products and auto-immune therapies such as IgG and biologics.  All of these infusions compete for limited nursing resources and physical space.

In general, family physicians are not able to refer their patients to hospitals for IV iron infusions.  These patients must first wait for an appointment with a specialist and then subsequently wait for their iron infusion appointment at the hospital.  For some patients, the cause of anemia is not obvious and they would benefit from a specialist consult in order to obtain a diagnosis. For many patients however, the cause of their anemia is already known and the referral process is just another barrier to getting the much needed iron.  For hospitals, the costs for the iron and infusion infrastructure comes out of their operating budget and opening up their services to any physician would place a huge stress on an already taxed system.  Expanding their ability to accommodate more iron infusions would likely require expanding physical space as well as staffing considerations and money for this is scarce.

Mainline is currently set up to accept referrals from both specialists and family physicians provided a medical work-up has been completed or is ongoing looking at the underlying cause of the patient’s anemia.  We can offer patients an appointment within 1 week of referral, often sooner, and can work closely with your doctor to make sure your treatment is optimized for you.  Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any other questions and you can download our referral form here.