Orthopedic Medical Wait Times in Canada: A Growing Concern

Orthopedic medical wait times in Canada have become a significant concern for patients and healthcare professionals alike. The prolonged wait times for orthopedic procedures have a detrimental impact on patients’ quality of life and overall well-being. This blog aims to highlight the latest orthopedic wait times reported by the Fraser Institute

Understanding Orthopedic Medical Wait Times

Orthopedic medical wait times refer to the length of time patients have to wait for orthopedic procedures, such as joint replacements. These wait times are measured from the moment a patient is referred to a specialist to the actual date of the procedure. It is broken down into two components: the wait time to see a specialist and the wait time from seeing a specialist to actual surgery. In Canada, these wait times have been steadily increasing over the years, leading to concerns about the accessibility and efficiency of orthopedic care.

2023 Report

According to the Fraser Institute’s yearly publication on medical wait times, Waiting Your Turn: Wait Times for Health Care in Canada, 2023 Report median wait time from GP referral to see a specialist in orthopedics in 2023 was 15.4 weeks. In 2022 it was 16 weeks. The median wait time between an appointment with a specialist and treatment in orthopedics in 2023 was 28.9 weeks. In 2022 it was 32.4 weeks. Total wait time in 2022 was 48.4 weeks, and in 2023 it was shorter at 44.3 weeks, an improvement of almost 4 weeks. Most of the time improvements came from the specialist to surgery wait time segment.

It also is worth noting that the Pan-American Benchmark wait time for a hip or knee replacement is 26 weeks, thus the national wait of 44.3 weeks is still way outside this standard.

Regional Differences

It must be noted that orthopedic wait times vary widely depending on the province you live in. Generally speaking, the Maritimes have the longest wait times, and Ontario has the shortest. Looking at 2023 data the report states that the median total expected waiting time from referral by GP to treatment in Orthopedics was the highest in Saskatchewan at 84.1 weeks, followed by New Brunswick at 75.1 weeks and the lowest in Ontario at 29 weeks followed by 39.8 by Quebec. The difference between the national 44.3 weeks to the highest is almost twice!

Should You Consider Private Orthopedic Surgery?

It is clear that some improvements are being made and the total wait time for orthopedic surgeries went down by 4 weeks. However, it is still far from the benchmark of 26 weeks. Many provincial governments are struggling to find more money into healthcare and federal help is being given for provincial healthcare. However, a big chunk of that money is allocated to mental health, an issue in itself and not subject to this blog.

What can be done? There are private options for orthopedic surgery. According to the Fraser Institute, “this year’s survey of specialists also found that an estimated 1.8% of patients received elective treatment in another country during 2022/23. Physicians also report that only about 13.7% of their patients are on a waiting list because they requested a delay or postponement, and that 47.1% would agree to have their procedure performed within a week if an opening arose. Thus, despite provincial strategies to reduce wait times and high levels of expenditure on health care, it is clear that patients in Canada are waiting too long to receive treatment.”

If you are considering a private orthopedic surgery we are here to help and guide you through private joint replacement options in Canada and the US, the paperwork, pre-op testing, travel and post-op recovery. You can reach us by email info@healthvantis.com or toll-free at 877 344 3544 to see if a private joint replacement is for you.

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