Better Health: Smart Health Commentary Better Health (TM): smart health commentary

Article Comments

Wait Times And Rationing Care In Canada

You may think all is well in Canada. A land where FREE=MORE has been granted a birth right. It has been said many times before: You have three endpoints for which to strive for. Cheap, Quality or Quick. Pick any two. You can not have all three. It seems that Canada has decided to sacrifice Quick. You can always guarantee cheap health care. You simply stop paying for it. That’s called rationing. Getting in line and waiting is a classic form of rationing used by governments all across this land of ours.

In fact, as a resident in training at a VA facility, I saw first hand how rationing of care occurred using waiting as the tool of choice. Schedules blocked at 5-8 patients. Leaving when the clock struck 4. Scheduling dead patients. Yes folks, that actually happened. As an inpatient, technologists would finish their day on their terms. Getting studies after hours was impossible. Patients would wait for days to get an echo or a doppler. I once had an xray technologist refuse to come in, from home, in the middle of the night to take a chest xray on a crashing ventilator patient. The fact that the VA would not staff an overnight xray technologist was simply ridiculous. Try to get anything done on a holiday. Not only impossible but the hoops one had to travel through to attempt it would make Obama cry if he had any idea what the government run care was doing to his Vets.

Wait times is rationing, no matter how you look at it. You can find the link to the Fraser Institute on Canada’s Wait times here at Dr Hal Dall’s blog. I want to thank him for pointing it out. It is a fascinating look into the discrepancies in Canada’s health care, in spite of the equality for all mantra of social solidarity. Here is an excerpt from the research.

Finally, the promise of the Canadian health care system is not being realized. On the contrary, a profusion of research reveals that cardiovascular surgery queues are routinely jumped by the famous and politically-connected, that suburban and rural residents confront barriers to access not encountered by their urban counterparts, and that low-income Canadians have less access to specialists, particularly cardiovascular ones, are less likely to utilize diagnostic imaging, and have lower cardiovascular and cancer survival rates than their higher-income neighbours. This grim portrait is the legacy of a medical system offering low expectations cloaked in lofty rhetoric. Indeed, under the current regime—first-dollar coverage with use limited by waiting, and crucial medical resources priced and allocated by governments— prospects for improvement are dim. Only substantial reform of that regime is likely to alleviate the medical system’s most curable disease—waiting times that are consistently and significantly longer than physicians feel is clinically reasonable.

*This blog post was originally published at A Happy Hospitalist*

You may also like these posts

    None Found

Read comments »

Comments are closed.

Return to article »

Latest Interviews

IDEA Labs: Medical Students Take The Lead In Healthcare Innovation

It’s no secret that doctors are disappointed with the way that the U.S. healthcare system is evolving. Most feel helpless about improving their work conditions or solving technical problems in patient care. Fortunately one young medical student was undeterred by the mountain of disappointment carried by his senior clinician mentors…

Read more »

How To Be A Successful Patient: Young Doctors Offer Some Advice

I am proud to be a part of the American Resident Project an initiative that promotes the writing of medical students residents and new physicians as they explore ideas for transforming American health care delivery. I recently had the opportunity to interview three of the writing fellows about how to…

Read more »

See all interviews »

Latest Cartoon

See all cartoons »

Latest Book Reviews

Book Review: Is Empathy Learned By Faking It Till It’s Real?

I m often asked to do book reviews on my blog and I rarely agree to them. This is because it takes me a long time to read a book and then if I don t enjoy it I figure the author would rather me remain silent than publish my…

Read more »

The Spirit Of The Place: Samuel Shem’s New Book May Depress You

When I was in medical school I read Samuel Shem s House Of God as a right of passage. At the time I found it to be a cynical yet eerily accurate portrayal of the underbelly of academic medicine. I gained comfort from its gallows humor and it made me…

Read more »

Eat To Save Your Life: Another Half-True Diet Book

I am hesitant to review diet books because they are so often a tangled mess of fact and fiction. Teasing out their truth from falsehood is about as exhausting as delousing a long-haired elementary school student. However after being approached by the authors’ PR agency with the promise of a…

Read more »

See all book reviews »

Commented - Most Popular Articles