Many people in British Columbia have experienced an episode of temporary bodily pain that makes the everyday activities of standing, walking or sleeping difficult.
Every year, tens of thousands of British Columbians are referred by their family physicians to see an Orthopaedic surgeon because their pain did not go away.
Measuring the Wait
The orthopaedic surgeons in BC currently fund an initiative to collect their patient’s wait times from their office electronic medical records, which are also used to manage their wait lists and book patients for consultation visits and surgery
Waiting in Pain for the Consultation
Many orthopaedic surgeons in BC, after receiving their request for a consultation from the family physician, will triage the patient based on medical urgency. If the referral is accepted by the surgeon, the patient is added to their consultation wait list.
Between April 1st 2016 and March 31st 2017 we recorded 16,632 consultations performed by Orthopaedic Surgeons in BC at the request of referring physicians. Half of the patients waited longer than 21 weeks. 1663 patients waited longer then 64 weeks for their consultation.
Waiting in Pain for Surgery.
We recorded 3885 patients who had surgery in fiscal 2016-17. Half of the patients longer then 33 weeks form the time they signed their consents for surgery. 389 patients waited longer then 78 weeks from the time they signed their consents.
Half of these 3885 patients waited longer then 61 weeks from the time they were first referred by their family doctor to their day of surgery.
All health regions in BC had similarly long wait times
Failure to acknowledge the Scope of the Problem
We call upon our elected officials and civil servants to acknowledge the widespread problems with timely access to Orthopaedic consultation and surgery. The BC health care system needs major reform if BC citizens are to receive timely access to care.
Conversation That Matters
June 3, 2017 featuring Dr. Kevin Wing
This episode of Conversation That Matters features Dr. Kevin Wing, the Past President of the BC Orthopaedic Association who talks about wait times and what he and his colleagues are doing to reduce the wait and relieve pain.
Are you or someone you know living with chronic pain? Have you ever wondered why it takes so long to see an orthopaedic surgeon? Then, why it takes longer still to get a date for surgery? How come someone in a car accident, or an on the job injury, gets into surgery within hours, but you wait, and wait, and wait?
Conversations That Matter is a partner program with the Centre for Dialogue at Simon Fraser University produced by veteran Broadcaster Stuart McNish each week.
Re: Health Minister Vows Action On Illegal Double Billing (June 12); Paying To End Their Pain (Focus, June 10): This is exactly the conversation about our beleaguered public health-care system we need to have.
For too long, our patients have suffered from the constraints of a system that no longer works. They wait to see a specialist and then they wait again for surgery, often with their conditions deteriorating and more often than not in pain. That so many seek private medical assistance is not surprising. It’s only surprising that it’s taking all of our partners in health care – the federal and provincial ministries, the regional health authorities, and the hospitals – so long to respond to the suffering of the taxpayers who fund the system.
Many of our members have come up with innovative solutions, but we are only one cog in the wheel and we must have the co-operation and leadership of our partners in health care to provide the proper and prompt access to orthopedic care that all our patients deserve.
Alastair Younger, President, Kevin Wing, immediate Past President, B.C. Orthopaedic Association
Victoria, BC- Our country’s beloved and beleaguered universal healthcare system was created over 50 years ago. At that time, only 10% of the population was 65 or older. By 2030, this age group will make up 25% of the population. This is also the group that requires the most orthopaedic care – to relieve pain and restore mobility impaired by degenerative conditions. Sadly, our healthcare system at the national, provincial and regional levels has not kept pace with the demand, and our patients do not have timely access to the care they need.
The BC Orthopaedic Association calls on our national and provincial governments – our partners in healthcare — to help us provide immediate care for all urgent orthopaedic problems and appropriate care within 90 days for all other non-emergency orthopaedic problems.
In our province right now, many innovative approaches and new programs already underway offer solutions to the issues we face in providing the best and most timely care. We have gathered solid data that supports these new initiatives and are happy to share both the quantitative and qualitative research we have done to date.
Orthopaedic healthcare teams need the financial and management resources to deliver the best and most affordable care possible. Centralized, multi-disciplinary in-take clinics have been identified as one of the ways to streamline and speed up the assessment and treatment of orthopaedic issues for most patients. But these innovative models need sufficient hospital resources to make sure all orthopaedic patients can get timely surgical solutions when needed. There are also human resource issues we must all tackle to get the system working optimally.
BC orthopaedic surgeons have created a library of videos detailing their experiences with our healthcare system and what excessive wait times for consultations and surgeries have meant to the well-being of their patients. Click here for the videos.
Dr. Kevin Wing takes us for a look inside the highly-efficient orthopaedic unit at St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver, BC. The methods and set-up have dramatically speeded up care for orthopaedic patients.
Have a tour of this one-stop shop for all orthopaedic care in Victoria, BC. CEO and Founder Stefan Fletcher and orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Peter Dryden show us how this innovative program has dramatically reduced wait times for patients to have their first orthopaedic consult.
Dr. Kate Ball, an orthopaedic surgeon operating in Vernon, BC, points out how the agony of orthopaedic patients waiting for years for simple surgical procedures can be alleviated. Unfortunately, too many still wait too long for these procedures and it affects their lives significantly.
Kelowna, BC orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Derek Plausinis talks about the need for coordinated care, both surgical and non-surgical, for all orthopaedic patients. Long wait times and patients living in pain are the result when this coordination is lacking.
Prince George, BC orthopaedic surgeon Dr. Mike Moran describes that being allocated only seven hours per week in the operating room means the valuable time and training of highly-skilled orthopaedic surgeons goes to waste.