Posted on Categories Member-News, News, Press Release

More hip and knee surgeries may mean less access for the other 85% of orthopaedic patients

 


April 4, 2018

Vancouver~ The provincial government’s recent announcement of targeted funding for more hip and knee replacement surgeries may mean decreased access for the other 85% of orthopaedic patients on wait lists, according to Dr. Alastair Younger, president of the BC Orthopaedic Association.

“While we are pleased there is a promise for more timely access to care for our hip and knee replacement patients, they only amount to 15% of all orthopaedic surgeries in the province,” he pointed out. “The other 85% still face long wait-times – from referral to consultation with a surgeon, to surgery itself takes an average of almost a full year – and that is not timely care.

“Many patients requiring orthopaedic care are unable to work,” Dr. Younger explained. “For example, half of patients with ankle arthritis cannot work. In the absence of more funding for these types of patients, the priority on hips and knees could well increase wait times for patients suffering with ankle, shoulder, foot, hand, wrist, elbow and other musculoskeletal challenges.”

Dr. Younger pointed out that more funding for hip and knee replacements does not address the increased need for access to trauma surgery because of our growing and aging population. “Orthopaedic surgeons cover both elective surgery and fractured bones,” Dr. Younger explained. “The fractures are often managed at night and over weekends, and amount to over 50% of the work performed by orthopaedic surgeons. With more hip and knee replacements being required by the government’s program, this may mean reduced access to trauma surgery and certainly puts more strain on all the doctors, nurses and ancillary staff providing orthopaedic care.

“We do laud the government’s announcement and we always want to work with the Ministry of Health towards improving timely access to care for all orthopaedic patients,” Dr. Younger said. “But we feel strongly that unequal access to care is a violation of the Accessibility Principle of the Canada Health Act and indeed, restricted access to care may be viewed as a human rights violation. We take these ethical and legal considerations seriously.

“There’s also the practical side to consider as well,” he pointed out. “Some facilities and administrators will make resource allocation decisions to prioritize hip and knee replacements and that will exacerbate wait times for other orthopaedic patients. For example, we treat many children, teens and young adults who may face lifelong disabilities or missed opportunities without appropriate and timely care.”

The British Columbia Orthopaedic Association is the professional organization that advocates for orthopaedic patients and represents the majority of orthopaedic surgeons in the province.

 

 

Posted on Categories Member-News, News, Press Release

Study confirms long waits for access to orthopaedic care

 


August 1, 2017

Vancouver ~ A study of wait times for 4,100 BC orthopaedic patients concluded that the average journey from referral to surgery was “worrisomely long at 59.5 weeks,” according to the study’s authors Drs. Alastair Younger and Dr. Kevin Wing.

“This study confirmed what our members – orthopaedic surgeons in British Columbia – have long known: our patients wait up to one year for non-emergency access to consultation and care,” Dr. Younger said. “It’s been difficult to get accurate information about this, especially when the BC Ministry of Health’s own website seems to suggest access to surgery takes only a few weeks.”

Published this week in the BC Medical Journal (BCMJWaitTimes) and funded by the BC Orthopaedic Association, the province-wide study looked at wait times for orthopaedic care in all five health regions and examined regional variations as well. The data was collected from 49 orthopaedic surgeons between May and July of last year.

“All health authorities have long waits for consultation and surgery, with some variation by region,” Dr. Younger said. “The bright spots with lower wait times for consultation were regions in which there are surgeon-led multi-disciplinary clinics that utilize centralized intake and ‘first available surgeon’ strategies to reduce wait times.”

Drs. Younger and Wing pointed out that the province’s announcement last month of more funding for hip and knee replacements do not address the trauma surgery increases created by our growing and aging population. “Orthopaedic surgeons cover both elective surgery and fractured bones,” Dr. Younger explained. “The fractures are often managed at night and over weekends, and amount to over 50% of the work performed by orthopaedic surgeons.

“We feel strongly that unequal access to care is a violation of the Accessibility Principle of the Canada Health Act and indeed, restricted access to care may be viewed as a human rights violation. We take these ethical and legal considerations seriously,” Dr. Younger said. “In addition, we treat many children, teens and young adults who may face lifelong disabilities or missed opportunities without appropriate and timely care.”

The BCOA 2017 wait time study, will be repeated later this year.

 

 

Posted on Categories Member-News, News, Press Release

Thousands of BC residents wait in pain for orthopaedic consultations

August 1, 2017

Vancouver, BC ~ Thousands of British Columbia residents in pain wait more than a year for an initial consultation with an orthopaedic surgeon, according to a recent study by the BC Orthopaedic Association.

Dr. Kevin Wing, a Clinical Professor in UBC’s Department of Orthopaedics, and immediate past president of the BC Orthopaedic Association and lead author explained that the study, conducted over 2016-17, followed patient’s episodes of care and revealed 16,632 consultations were performed by orthopaedic surgeons on request of referring physicians. “Fully half of those patients waited – some in great pain – more than 21 weeks to see me or one of my colleagues just for a consultation,” he said. “Almost 1,700 patients waited longer than 64 weeks for their consultation. This is not acceptable.”

Wing said many orthopaedic surgeons ‘triage’ patients based on medical urgency and emergency orthopaedic cases are treated immediately, but the wait time for both consultation and the subsequent second wait time for those who need surgery is far too long for patients who need relief from pain and immobility. “Half of the 3,885 surgical patients in the study waited more than 33 weeks for surgery and 389 patients waited longer than 78 weeks from the time they signed their consent forms for surgery,” Wing, a foot and ankle specialist at St. Paul’s Hospital, explained. “Half of those 3,885 patients also waited longer than 61 weeks from the time they were first referred by their family doctor to the day of their surgery.

“The scope of the problem is not being acknowledged by our elected officials and the bureaucracy that runs our healthcare system,” Wing pointed out. “We need major reform for our patients to receive what they are entitled to: timely access to care. As surgeons, we are dependent on many other resources in the system and we cannot make all the changes needed alone; we all have to work together to fix our broken system.”

The BCOA funds the “Wait Time Initiative” which collects patient wait times from the electronic records of orthopaedic surgeons’ offices throughout the province. The data tracks both first and second wait times; the first the time it takes for a patient referred by a family doctor to be seen by an orthopaedic surgeon and the second the time it takes for those patients who need surgery to receive it.


To add your voice to the conversation about timely access to care, email the BC Minister of Health at HLTH.health@gov.bc.ca or the Federal Minister of Health at Hon.Jane.Philpott@Canada.ca.

For more about timely access to healthcare, see www.bcoa.ca, and call 250-881-2262.

 

Posted on Categories Member-News, News, Press Release, Video

CONVERSATION THAT MATTERS
featuring Dr. Kevin Wing

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.

Posted on Categories Member-News, News, Press Release

The Price Of Pain- Globe and Mail

 

The Price of Pain

June 13, 2017

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

 

Posted on Categories Member-News, News, Press Release

Timely Access to Orthopaedic Healthcare – a right for all Canadians

June 12, 2017

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.


To add your voice to the conversation about timely access to care, email the BC Minister of Health at HLTH.health@gov.bc.ca or the Federal Minister of Health at Hon.Jane.Philpott@Canada.ca.

For more about timely access to healthcare, see www.bcoa.ca, and call 250-881-2262.