NL wait times among best: CIHI

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A new national report on wait times is showing Newfoundland and Labrador is measuring up or outperforming most other provinces in some key areas.

The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released its report, Wait Times for Priority Procedures in Canada 2013, on Tuesday.

“Newfoundland is where we are seeing improvement. Patients are more likely to get surgeries in the recommended timeframe,” director of health system analysis Kathleen Morris said in an interview about the report, which examines 2012 data.

In 2004, the provinces committed to reducing waits in five priority areas and set benchmarks for radiation therapy, cardiac bypass surgery, hip and knee replacements, hip fracture repair and cataract surgery.

This year’s report was unable to measure the cardiac bypass surgeries against benchmarks, because definitions of urgency vary from province to province.

In the beginning as provinces targeted the key areas, wait times reduced drastically, CIHI said.

But as record numbers of Canadians required the treatments in 2012, there was no overall reduction in the length of time patients waited, according to CIHI.

“Hospitals across Canada continue to provide more procedures to more patients,” CIHI president Jeremy Veillard, vice president of research and analysis said in a news release.

“At the same time, this growing volume presents a challenge to efforts to reduce the time that each individual patient waits.”

In this province, CIHI attributed some of the progress to increased funding for additional hip and knee replacements in 2012.

Newfoundland and Labrador is one of only two provinces that showed improvement over three years in meeting the key joint replacement benchmarks, according to the report.

Newfoundland is running counter to the trend for joint replacements — hip or knee — in the rest of the country by actually showing improvement, Morris said.

In this province, some 83 per cent of patients (up from 75 per cent in 2010) received hip replacements within the benchmark time frame; 81 per cent received knee replacements and hip fracture repairs within benchmark, 82 per cent received cataract procedures within benchmark and 98 per cent received radiation therapy.

Knee replacements are up from 67 per cent within benchmark in 2010.

Percentages for radiation therapy are high across the country and ranged from 89 per cent in Nova Scotia to 100 per cent in Manitoba.

The benchmark wait times for each procedure are: hip and knee replacement— within 182 days; hip fracture repair — 48 hours; cataract surgery — 112 days and radiation therapy — 28 days.

Demand on joint replacement across the country are driven by an aging population, and health problems like obesity and arthritis. As well, advancements in technology mean surgeons are more willing to do the procedure in younger people, Morris said.

Organizations: CIHI, Canadian Institute for Health Information, Wait Times for Priority Procedures

Geographic location: Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada, Nova Scotia Manitoba.The

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Recent comments

  • a business man
    March 20, 2013 - 08:58

    How do we give the hospitals more money to reduce wait times? Well one idea is to allow corporations to export all of our fish RAW, and charge them a royalty for the right to do so. I like this idea because it will not require any tax increases and it will allow everyone to benefit from the fish resource. The bottom line is that reducing wait times will cost money, and the majority of voters are best served by using the fish to get the money instead of actually paying more taxes. The best part about this idea is that there are very very few fishermen who will be displaced with my plan based on our population. SO, while the thousands of fishermen will lose their livelihood, hundreds of thousands of citizens will enjoy lower wait times. The bottom line is that as citizens, we all own the fish. We can either let the fishermen continue to monopolize the fish benefits, or we can demand that the fish be used to reduced wait times. I suggest the latter, because most voters get no benefit from the fishery. I suspect the majority of voters feel the same way. Maybe I am wrong, but I don't think so.

  • david
    March 19, 2013 - 19:54

    Well, isn't that comforting! On one, patheitc measure of "wait times" --- a measure that should not, and would not exist in a working, effective health care system --- Nfld. has been measured (wink, wink!) as the best of a very, very sorry lot. Huzzah! How about any other, obtuse treatment efficacy....oh, not there yet. ...... Shame. Shame.

  • Sabine
    March 19, 2013 - 14:31

    Wait times for certain surgeries may indeed be better here, but first one needs to be able to actually SEE a surgeon or specialist! My partner had a back injury that resulted in a herniated disk. He was in extreme pain, barely able to walk, and certainly unable to work. His GP sent a referral to a surgeon and we were told the wait time for the appointment would be ONE YEAR. I have been dealing with an ovarian cyst (thankfully benign) and had to wait SIX MONTHS to see an OB/GYN. Until I was able to see the specialist I had no idea what I was facing so I had six months of 'is it benign? is it cancer?' to go through before finally getting the good news. How much unnecessary stress, pain, and lost wages are people in this province expected to put up with? Yes, well done on speeding up the wait times for important surgeries, now how about addressing the problem of getting to actually see the surgeon in the first place?