Orthopedic Wait Times in Canada 2020

In our previous blog we talked about 2020 medical wait times in Canada. In this blog, we will look in more details at one of the 12 specialities examined by Fraser Institute – Orthopaedics.

Across Canada, for orthopaedics, the total wait time in 2020 was 34.1 weeks. This is a decrease of 5 weeks, compared to 2019 when the wait was 39.1 weeks. Chart 1 shows Orthopedic surgery wait times 10 years back and also includes 1993 when it was 19.5 weeks.

The report further breaks down wait times into two different segments. Segment 1 is the wait time from referral by a general practitioner to consultation with a specialist. Segment 2 is the wait time from the consultation with a specialist to point at which a patient receives treatment.

The wait time from GP to a specialist was 13.2, again, less than in 2019 when it was 14.6. The wait time from specialist to treatment was 20.9 weeks down from 24.5 weeks in 2019. Although it is one of the longest wait time for the 12 specialities surveyed in 2020 (shared by Plastic Surgery and Ophthalmology), it is definitely an improvement over the last year.

As far as which province fares the best, the report lists ON, where the median patient wait to see a specialist after referral from GP takes 8 weeks, and median wait to get treatment after the appointment with a specialist is 18.2 weeks. In other words, the median time to get an orthopaedic surgery in Ontario is 26.2 weeks. The province of Saskatchewan came very close, it takes longer to see a specialist (median 20 weeks), but faster to get surgery (6.3 weeks) a total of 26.3 weeks.

The longest wait time was in NS – a total of 57.6 weeks from referral by GP to surgery. Please refer to Chart 2 for the rest of the Canadian provinces numbers.

If you are unwilling to wait and would like to explore your private options, we are here to connect you to a reputable medical facility in the US or Canada. Give us a call to find out your options – toll-free 877 344 3544

Chart 1

Chart 2

How Long Can You Wait?

2020 has not been kind to many of us. Canadians endured lockdowns and shutdowns, social isolation and other unpleasant life adjustments due to COVID-19. They also endured longer medical wait times as many experienced cancellations of their scheduled elective surgeries.

According to the new report issued by Fraser Institute on December 10, 2020, it is estimated that “the total number of procedures for which people are waiting in 2020 is 1,224,198, an increase of 15% from the estimated 1,064,286 procedures in 2019.” That means that 3.2% of Canadians were waiting for their elective medically necessary treatment last year. Each province has a different percentage of their population waiting – Quebec has the lowest – 1.97% of the population and Nova Scotia is much higher – at 9.97%. Only the province of Manitoba did better – their number of people waiting for medical procedures decreased.

The total waiting time between referral from a general practitioner and delivery of medically necessary elective treatment by a specialist averaged across all 12 specialities and 10 provinces surveyed, has risen from 20.9 weeks in 2019 to 22.6 in 2020. This is the longest wait time on record. It is 143% longer than in 1993 when it was just 9.3 weeks.

Each province fared differently in medical wait times, as medical care is in the hands of provincial governments. Province of Ontario seems to have the shortest wait times overall, from GP referral to delivery of medically necessary elective treatment it takes 17.4 weeks. The Maritime provinces had more than double wait of ON – PEI at 46.5 weeks, NS at 43.8 weeks and NB at 41.3 weeks.

Each of the 12 specialities had different wait times. Plastic surgery (34.1 weeks), Ophthalmology (34.1 weeks), Neurosurgery (33.2 weeks) and Orthopedics (34.1 weeks) had the longest waits. The largest increases in waits between 2019 and 2020 occurred for neurosurgery (+7.7 weeks), ophthalmological surgery (+5.7 weeks), and plastic surgery (+5.4 weeks). There were also decreases. Wait times for patients receiving treatment in fields like orthopaedics (−5.0 weeks), and medical oncology (−0.1 week).

In our next blog, we will look at wait times in orthopaedics in more detail. If you are unwilling to wait for your surgery and are able to travel outside of your province, we can help connect you with a private facility in the US or Canada. Please note that only a few private options are available in Canada. Give us a call to find out more details. Toll-free 877 344 3544.