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Letter: Greater access to cardiac care would save lives

Is the Newfoundland and Labrador health-care system’s delay in cardiac testing and surgery contributing to cardiac patient debility and surgical failure rate?

One of the great advances in modern medicine in the past few decades has been the developing success of open-heart surgery. The lives of cardiac patients are continuously being improved and saved every year by the abilities and skill of cardiac surgeons. The improvement to the quality of life to these patients, and their families, because of the work of surgeons, cardiac technicians and nurses, is immeasurable. As a physician of some 25 years, I have to say their work and level of care is extraordinary and humbling.

An important factor in the level of care and success of heart surgery in a number of patients presenting with a heart attack has to do with the length of time between attack and corrective surgery. The preforming of investigative cardiac procedures should be carried out as quickly as possible with surgery, if necessary, following soon thereafter. Protocols that do not allow, or fail to allow, patients the shortest time of enactment of treatment experience a worsening of their condition compared to those patients who are more quickly treated.

An important factor in the level of care and success of heart surgery in a number of patients presenting with a heart attack has to do with the length of time between attack and corrective surgery.

An Aug. 6, 2012 Science Daily article, “Long waiting times for heart bypass surgery linked to higher risk of death” by Lippincott Williams & Wilkins concluded that their study provided “evidence to inform decisions regarding capacity planning versus access time of (cardiac artery bypass graph), with the goal of minimizing adverse outcomes associated with excessive wait list time.”

The findings of this medical study substantiate the long hospital wait time experiences of patients presenting with heart attacks in our province. Addressing and improving the limited budgeting for performance of cardiac tests and surgery on cardiac patients should be an urgent issue for health care in our province.

Improving this budget and its expenditure might mean acquiring additional cardiac surgeons, more technical equipment, additional shifts for technicians or a combination of all three. The resulting decrease in time to cardiac investigation and treatment for many of these patients would decrease their complications and stress, greatly improving their quality of life.

 

Phil Earle

Carbonear

 

 

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