Saturday, November 20, 2010

Doctors Playing Hard to Get

The headline story from a recent study of Canadians' views on Health Care is, "It's hard to get health care after-hours." That's a very polite assessment, it's hard to get care anytime. The Toronto Sun reports:

Although Canadians take great pride in their country’s health-care system, they have a hard time accessing health care after-hours and are often forced to turn to emergency departments for care when their family doctors are unavailable, according to a new survey.

More than one-third of Canadians surveyed (37%) said it is very difficult to get care in the evenings, on weekends and holidays without going to a hospital emergency department.

And 44% of Canadians said they had visited an emergency department at least once in the last two years — making Canadians the most frequent users of emergency departments of all 11 countries surveyed. Switzerland, Germany, the U.K., Norway, the Netherlands, France, New Zealand, Australia, Sweden and the U.S. were all surveyed.

Timing of medical care was also a concern for Canadians. More than 40% said they had to wait more than four weeks to see a specialist after being advised to do so, and only 45% were able to get an appointment on the day or next day when they were sick or in need of medical attention.

I'm just not that concerned that doctors don't work evenings, if you're that sick take off work. The more scandalous news is that 55% of Canadians can't get an appointment with their doctor within 2 days. The survey also doesn't mention wait times at emergency rooms. It's very common for people to try to decide which hospital to go to based on where they think the wait time will be shortest. It's also extremely common for people to go to an emergency room and then decide after 4 or more hours of waiting that they'll just take their chances at the pharmacy.


Pissedoff said...

My family and I cannot get a doctors visit for 3 months in Ontario even with McSlippery's biggest tax hike in history.

Frances said...

'take off work' isn't always an option, Pat. There is incredible pressure on lower-level employees to keep working, and not every workplace gives sick leave (or not without an incredible hassle). Further, the extent of the problem may not be obvious until after your doctor's work hours - assuming, of course, you could have gotten an appointment for that day anyway (it's usually at least a week).

Children are especially prone to getting sick at odd and inconvenient times. I would swear ours knew when the doctor's office closed, because that's when the fever would rise and they would become alarmingly listless. We coped, but there was the occasional 'emergency' run when we didn't think it was safe to wait until we could get in to see our normal doctor.

Patrick O'Neil said...

Sorry Frances. Didn't mean to downplay the inconvenience of no service after hours. My main point was that the headline seemed to downplay the fact that waiting for health care in this country is extreme.