Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Canadian Wait Times

One of the arguments often used against Canada's public health care system - and in support of privatized services - is the wait times. The Canadian Institute for Health Information has released a report [pdf] that claims that 8 out of 10 Canadians receive treatment within medically recommended wait times in provincially identified priority areas including cancer treatment, cardiac care, joint replacement, and vision restoration.

80% doesn't seem so terrible, unless of course you're in the 20% where wait times can be as much as three times the recommended benchmark. And if you're suffering with a hip fracture, 48 hours might seem like an eternity even if it is the evidence-based benchmark. Generally, although there is variation, Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia are your best bets for receiving timely care. Click the picture to enlarge or check out the full report for a more detailed look.

The study also looked at CT and MRI imaging, though there are currently no pan-Canadian benchmarks. In Ontario, where the provincial target for non-emergency, non-urgent CT scans is 4 weeks, the median wait time is under 10 days and the 90th percentile is about 35 days and trending downwards. MRIs on the other hand, with the same non-emergency, non-urgent target of four weeks have a median wait time of close to 40 days with the 90th percentile mark at 120. And these times have gotten longer over recent years.

Other items of note: If you need a knee replacement, avoid Nova Scotia (only 42% meet benchmark wait times). Ditto for cataract surgery in Alberta (48%). And PEI doesn't offer cardiac services? No wonder Matthew Cuthbert didn't make it.


Anonymous said...

PEI cardiac services get referred to Halifax.

Anonymous said...

There is a new wait time study out from the Libin Cardiovascular Institute of Alberta at the University of Calgary. It is looking at wait times for Heart Surgery and Coronary Angioplasty in British Columbia and Alberta.