Doctors say the pandemic has left nearly 16 million medical procedures backlogged in Ontario

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The Ontario Medical Association (OMA) said the COVID-19 pandemic has left an estimated 15.9 million surgeries, diagnostic exams, examinations and other medical procedures that should have been performed in Ontario.

This is average to more than a missing medical procedure for every Ontario resident, OMA President Dr. Adam Kassam said in an online briefing on Wednesday.

“Covid-19 cases in Ontario are finally declining,” he said. “But three big waves of infection caused a long backlog of surgeries, diagnostic exams, and other healthcare procedures.”

In a statement, the OMA It is estimated that the first six missed or delayed procedures In the province are:

  • MRI machines (477,301)
  • CT scans (269,683)
  • Cataract Surgeries (90136)
  • Knee replacements (38,263)
  • Hip Replacement (16506)
  • Coronary bypass surgery (3,163)

OMA said those estimates add to the number of people who were already on waiting lists before the pandemic.

The association calculated the numbers by comparing OHIP bills for actions in 2020 with bills in 2021. This method should give a fairly accurate estimate, because there is no reason why the number of people who need medical care for medical conditions other than COVID have decreased, Kassam said. on an annual basis.

“Many cases are not well diagnosed or diagnosed,” he said. “Many people have not yet seen their doctors during this pandemic and may be suffering from conditions we don’t know about yet.”

Cancer check, blood down

OMA said the backlog of tests and procedures being administered in the community (for example, those handled in family physician clinics) is higher than the backlog in hospitals.

“We’ve seen fewer preventative tests done to screen for diseases, such as mammograms for breast cancer, colon cancer screening tests and PAP tests for cervical cancer,” said Dr. Sohal Goyal, family physician and chief of Mississauga Halton Primary Care Center. Grid, who spoke at OMA’s briefing.

“Fewer cardiac tests are done to detect heart disease. Less blood work to detect diseases such as high cholesterol.”

COVID-19 pandemic
Dr. Sohal Goyal, MD, a family physician in Mississauga, Ont. Patients know that primary care facilities are open and patients should not hesitate to book preventive check-ins as well as check-ins for chronic conditions such as diabetes. (Provided by Dr. Sohal Goyal)

This means that the kind of early detection that leads to early treatment or prevention of diseases, such as stroke, is not happening as often as it should, Goyal said.

In addition, he said, many patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes are not being monitored.

Dr.. Sandra Landolt , A dermatologist in Thornhill, Ontario, and chief of dermatology at OMA, said she’s concerned there is a “backlog we don’t know about yet,” as patients miss early detection of melanoma and other serious skin cancers.

Clearing the backlog can take months

Delays in detection and treatment mean heart patients are getting sicker by the time they see a doctor and are put on a waiting list, said Dr. Harindra Wijeysundera, chief of cardiology at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Center.

OMA also emphasized that mental health issues have increased during the pandemic and will require ongoing care in the coming years.

OMA said it would take between four and 22 months to clear the backlog, depending on the measure, if healthcare staff were working at 120 percent — which is not sustainable.

As a result, the association is consulting with its members, other healthcare partners (such as nursing associations), and the public to come up with recommendations to address the backlog more efficiently, Kassam said.

Goyal, the family physician, said one problem that can be addressed now is the misperception that doctors are still unavailable to see patients during the pandemic.

“We are open,” he said. “Contact your doctor.”

“Go to your screening test where the system opens. Go to that blood test that was on hold. If you’re hesitant about getting vaccinated, contact us and we can help answer your questions.”

Patients are worried while they wait

Goyal and Wijeysundera, a cardiologist, said doctors are aware of the anxiety many patients feel as they continue to endure long waits for procedures or checkups.

“I acknowledge how difficult this is. But I also encourage all patients out there who are waiting not to wait in isolation,” Wijeysundera said. “Waiting time is not a constant thing.”

“They are not alone in this, they are not isolated. Get in touch with us and we will work through a solution,” he said.

“We understand that you are feeling anxious or helpless,” Goyal said. “We will do everything we can to make sure we get through this backlog and support you.

“We will continue to explore more solutions.”

More to track …
Bulletin Observer Health

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