Waiting List Deaths Hit Four-Year High
- Government data shows 13,581 Canadians died last year waiting for everything from heart operations and knee surgery to MRI and CT scans
- Surgical waiting list deaths up 24% over the past four years
CALGARY, AB: SecondStreet.org released its fourth Died on a Waiting List report today after gathering and analyzing government data on patients dying while waiting for surgery and diagnostic scans. The data shows waiting list deaths are at a four-year high since the organization began tracking this problem in 2018-19.
The data shows that over the past four years, there has been a 24% increase in surgical waiting list deaths. Information obtained from Ontario Health data shows an increase of over 400% when it comes to waiting list deaths for CT scans and MRI scans since 2015-16.
“The pandemic made a bad situation worse, but Canadians should know this was a growing problem well before COVID arrived,” said SecondStreet.org President Colin Craig. “It’s quite startling how governments aren’t tracking this problem. One would think a health minister would want to know how many patients died due to long waiting lists in their province, but no health minister in Canada knows the answer.”
SecondStreet.org gathered the data by filing Freedom of Information requests with hospitals and health bodies across Canada. Highlights from this year’s report include:
- At least 13,581 patients died while waiting for surgeries, procedures and diagnostic scans in 2021-22. This year’s total is up from last year’s total of 11,581.
- The cases include a wide array of services – everything from hip operations and heart surgery to CT and MRI scans. Before dying on a waiting list, patients had waited anywhere from less than a month to over eight years. Many died after waiting longer than the recommended wait time.
- Surgical waiting list deaths are up 24% over the past four years.
- Nova Scotia provided the most comprehensive data. They were able to note that of the 352 patients who died while waiting for surgery this past year, 28 were waiting for surgeries that could have potentially saved their lives. Over 60% had waited longer than the recommended wait time.
- Alberta no longer collects data related to this problem and Saskatchewan did not provide data in time. However, SecondStreet.org did obtain some data from Newfoundland for the first time.
“Laura Hillier, Michel Houle, Jerry Dunham, Shannon Anderson, there are many cases of patients dying due to long waiting lists in Canada,” added Craig. “How can governments fix this problem if they’re not even looking into it? The first step is to start tracking the problem, then put in place solutions.”
To view SecondStreet.org’s 2021-22 Died on a Waiting List report – click here.
DATA FROM HEALTH REGIONS/HOSPITALS:
– BC – Interior Health – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– BC – Fraser Health – click here
– SK – Ministry of Health – click here
– MB – Prairie Mountain Health – click here
– ON – Ontario Health – click here
– QC – Quebec City (Capitale Nationale) – click here
– NB – Department of Health – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– NS – NS Health Authority – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– NL – Eastern Health – click here
– NL – Centre for Health Information – click here
– NL – Department of Health and Community Services – click here
– PEI – Health PEI – click here
– Hospital for Sick Children – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– Guelph General Hospital – click here
– Halton Health Care – click here
– Hamilton Health Sciences – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– Lakeridge Health – click here
– London Health Sciences Centre – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– Mackenzie Health – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– Hopital Montfort – click here
– Niagara Health – click here
– The Ottawa Hospital – click here
– Queensway Carleton Hospital – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– Scarborough Health Network – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– Sinai Health – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– Southlake Regional Health Centre – click here for surgical data and click here for diagnostic data
– Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre – click here
Note: For 2020-21 data, click here. For 2019-20 data, click here. For 2018-19 data, click here.
UPDATE: Since releasing this report, the Saskatchewan government has provided data on the number of patients who died on a waiting list. You can see the news release and data here. SecondStreet.org also found data from the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority that showed six patients had died while waiting for cardiac surgery in 2021-22.
The data from Saskatchewan and Winnipeg brings the nationwide total number of patients who died on a waiting list in 2021-22 to 13,930.
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