Pandemic has left backlog of almost 16 million medical procedures in Ontario, doctors say

Pandemic has left backlog of almost 16 million medical procedures in Ontario, doctors say

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

That averages out to more than one missed medical procedure per Ontario resident, said OMA president Dr. Adam Kassam in an online media briefing on Wednesday.  

“COVID-19 cases in Ontario are finally falling,” he said. “But three significant waves of infection have created a lengthy backlog of surgeries, diagnostic exams and other health-care procedures.”

In a statement, the OMA estimated that the top six missed or delayed procedures in the province are:

  • MRIs (477,301)
  • CT scans (269,683)
  • Cataract surgeries (90,136)
  • Knee replacements (38,263)
  • Hip replacements (16,506)
  • Coronary bypass surgery (3,163)

These estimates are in addition to the number of people who were already on waiting lists prior to the pandemic, the OMA said. 

The association calculated the numbers by comparing OHIP billings for procedures in 2020 to billings in 2021. That method should give a fairly accurate estimate, Kassam said, because there's no reason that the number of people requiring medical attention for non-COVID medical conditions would have declined year-over-year.  

“Many conditions are going undiagnosed or underdiagnosed,” he said. “Many people have not yet seen their doctors during this pandemic and may have conditions we actually don't yet know about.”

Cancer screening, bloodwork down

The backlog for screenings and procedures delivered in the community (for example, those handled at family physicians' practices) is higher than the backlog in hospitals, the OMA said.

“We have seen less preventative tests done to screen for illnesses, such as mammograms for breast cancer, tests for colon cancer detection and PAP tests for cervical cancer,” said Dr. Sohal Goyal, a family physician and chair of the Mississauga Halton Primary Care Network, who spoke at the OMA briefing. 

“Less cardiac testing has been done to detect heart disease. Less bloodwork for disease detection like high cholesterol.” 

Pandemic has left backlog of almost 16 million medical procedures in Ontario, doctors say

That means the kind of early detection that leads to early treatment or prevention of illnesses, such as stroke, isn't happening as much as it should, Goyal said.  

In addition, he said, many patients with chronic conditions such as diabetes aren't being monitored. 

Dr. Sandra Landolt, a dermatologist in Thornhill, Ont., and chair of the OMA's dermatology section, said she's worried there's a “backlog that we don't even know about yet,” as patients miss early detection of melanoma and other serious skin cancers. 

Clearing backlog could take months

Delays in detection and treatment have meant that cardiac patients are sicker by the time they see a doctor and are put on a waitlist, said Dr. Harindra Wijeysundera, head of the cardiology division at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre.  

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

Clearing the backlog would take between four and 22 months, depending on the procedure, if health-care staff worked at 120 per cent — something that's not sustainable, the OMA said. 

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

One of the problems that can be addressed now is the mistaken perception that doctors still aren't available to see patients during the pandemic, said Goyal, the family physician. 

“We are open,” he said. “Reach out to your doctor.”

“Go for your screening test as the system is opening up. Go for that bloodwork that's been pending. If you're vaccine-hesitant, reach out to us and we can help answer your questions.”

Patients anxious as they wait

Both Goyal and Wijeysundera, the cardiologist, said doctors recognize the anxiety many patients are feeling as they continue to endure long waits for procedures or screenings.  

“I acknowledge how hard this is. But I also would encourage all the patients out there who are waiting to not to wait in isolation,” Wijeysundera said. “The wait time is not a static thing.”

“They're not alone in this, they're not isolated. Engage with us and we'll work through a solution,” he said. 

“We understand that you're feeling anxious or helpless,” Goyal said. “We will do what it takes to make sure that we go through that backlog and support you.

“We're going to continue to explore more solutions.”

News Related

OTHER NEWS

COVID-19: Cases fall in the Netherlands and UK, while Italy and Romania push vaccines

While COVID-19 cases fall in some European countries, others fear a fourth wave of infections is underway. Cases in the Netherlands have fallen by 44% compared to last week, according ... Read more »

Schools implement mask mandates even as some states impose bans; US reports one case every second: Live COVID-19 updates

The U.S. Department of Education Monday released a roadmap for the return to school this fall, encouraging districts to invest in physical and emotional support for students. Among the roadmap’s ... Read more »

Cobblestone stones honor WWII gay and lesbian resistance fighters

Karel Pekelharing stone. Photo: DutchNews.nl Nine Jewish gay and lesbian resistance figurines are to be given their own “Stolperstein” or commemorative street tiles in front of their last known address. ... Read more »

Covid UK news – live: Vaccine to be offered to 16 and 17-year-olds as UK sees highest deaths since mid-March

✕ Close Coronavirus in numbers The coronavirus vaccination programme looks set to be rolled out to more than a million 16- and 17-year-olds. It is expected ministers will on Wednesday ... Read more »

Obese mice lose weight ‘sweating out' fat in an immune system experiment, despite eating more

In search of better treatments for type 2 diabetes and other consequences of obesity, Taku Kambayashi has long wondered if he could harness a bodily function that most think about ... Read more »

NYC will have the first government-issued vaccine mandate in the US. Here's what we know.

NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio just mandated proof of vaccination for indoor restaurants, gyms and performance venues. Here’s how that will work. Read more »

Peak hospital admissions seems to have been reached, 44% fewer new infections

Increase in IC In the past week, 541 new COVID-19 hospitalizations were registered compared to 564 the week before. “In the past week, there were 130 new admissions to the ... Read more »

The Path to Forgiveness When Someone Hurts You: How to Forgive, Let Go, and Protect Yourself

When you’ve been hurt by someone you trust, you might feel angry or resentful, especially if it keeps happening. Forgiving the person who is hurting you can rid you of ... Read more »

How to Boost Your Confidence (13 Steps to Help Your Social Anxiety)

Are you sometimes nervous to speak up and say what’s on your mind? It’s okay to be a little shy every now and then, but it might prevent you from ... Read more »

This South Korean company has figured out how to get the best night's sleep. Does sleep tech work?

A lack of sleep not only makes us grumpy in the mornings but it can also affect our health too. There are a range of gadgets out there with many ... Read more »

NHS must work in “new ways” to deliver care, says new chief executive

Amanda Pritchard during a visit to University College Hospital London, following the announcement of her appointment as the new chief executive of the NHS in England. (PA) The health service ... Read more »

3 ways to show you've gotten the COVID-19 vaccine

Did you misplace your vaccine passport? Here are three other ways you can prove you’ve been vaccinated. Read more »

Covid-19 antibody test: what does your result mean? Why a high score is good but doesn't tell the whole story

Standing in a taxi queue recently I overheard a middle-aged man say to a woman of similar age ahead of him in line, “I got 650”. Whatever he was referring ... Read more »

One-third of all COVID cases reported in Florida and Texas; US reaches 70% of partially vaccinated adults: COVID-19 updates

Florida and Texas had one-third of all COVID cases reported last week, White House COVID-19 Response coordinator Jeff Zients said during a Monday news conference. Florida broke two records — ... Read more »

Rabobank to compensate customers who have paid too much interest

Photo: Rabobank Rabobank is working to settle thousands of customers who have paid large amounts of interest on consumer loans, Cooperative Bank said Tuesday. The decision focuses on the high ... Read more »

Covid UK news - live: PM U-turns on amber watchlist as England could be ‘over the edge' of third wave

✕ Close Boris Johnson hints at U-turn on amber watchlist Plans for an “amber watchlist” have been abandoned as ministers prepare to review the traffic light system which will decide ... Read more »

How to Verify a Physician's License in California

Before you choose a physician for any type of treatment, it’s always a good idea to verify their license. This assures you that their license is in good standing and ... Read more »

Sailing Bronze has won a total of 19 Dutch medals and will win even more.

Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz during the race. Photo: Olaf Kraak ANP In the disappointing medal race of Sailor Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz, she was pushed back to the ... Read more »

From AI to ice vests: How Tokyo 2020 athletes are adapting to the hottest Olympics ever

Tokyo 2020 is likely to go down in history as the hottest modern Olympic and Paralympic Games ever. Daily high temperatures in the Japanese capital have hovered around 31C throughout ... Read more »

How to Use a Monocular

A monocular is like a small telescope. It is smaller and lighter than binoculars while packing the same power. To use a monocular, make sure that you keep a firm ... Read more »

Poorer communities see twice as many smoking related cancers as richer areas, says study

Smoking is linked to poverty and is causing more cancers in poorer communities (Getty Images/iStockphoto) There are nearly twice as many cancers caused by smoking among the poorest people in ... Read more »

Paramedics left in tears from ‘unsustainable demand', warns union

Unison has warned ambulance chiefs that the pressure is taking its toll on their workforce (Getty) Paramedics are being left in tears at the end of stressful shifts, with some ... Read more »

How to Use Apple Health

This wikiHow teaches you how to get started with Apple Health on your iPhone. The Health app makes it easy to access your important health information, including your medical history, ... Read more »

How to Understand Social Distancing

The term “social distancing” is all over the news, but what does it really mean? This term refers to staying a specific distance away from other people to help prevent ... Read more »

How to Treat a Bruised Thigh Muscle

Ouch! A bruised thigh is no joke. The front of your thigh is composed of large muscles called your quadriceps, and anybody who’s ever taken a direct hit there can ... Read more »

How to Treat Tunnel Wounds

A tunnel wound is a secondary wound that occurs alongside a primary wound, and it’s usually caused by an infection or pressure. This kind of wound extends into layers of ... Read more »

How to Treat Overmethylation

Methylation is a fairly complex process, but basically, it’s the natural process where methyl groups (one carbon and three hydrogen atoms) are transferred throughout your body. This happens billions of ... Read more »

How to Treat Numbness in Legs and Feet

Numbness in your legs and feet can cause discomfort and awkwardness, but it’s usually no cause for alarm. If you sit or stand in the same position for an extended ... Read more »

How to Treat Liver Fibrosis

Your liver is an incredible organ—it can grow back from almost nothing. But if it’s damaged too often, it can lead to a condition called fibrosis. The good news is ... Read more »

50 per cent vaxxed is not enough to safely lift restrictions: Doherty Institute

If NSW reaches its target of 6 million Covid-19 vaccinations by the end of the month it will still be “a long way” from being safe from the virus, according ... Read more »

How to Treat Crepitus

Crepitus is a general term for the crackling or popping sound made by a joint. This is typically caused by cartilage or soft tissue rubbing against a joint during movement, ... Read more »

How to Treat Cold Feet

Having cold feet is a pretty common problem, especially during the wintertime. However, if you have persistent cold feet, you could have an underlying condition such as Reynaud’s phenomenon. Fortunately, ... Read more »

How to Treat Buttock Folliculitis

Folliculitis is a common condition causing inflamed hair follicles and a raised rash. While it can occur anywhere on your body, the buttocks are a common area for an outbreak. ... Read more »

'People who do not want to be vaccinated may go elsewhere': Court backs Indiana University mandate

INDIANAPOLIS — Students who don’t like Indiana University’s COVID-19 vaccine requirement can go elsewhere for their education. That was the message delivered by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in ... Read more »

How to Take a Mankind Unwanted Kit

A Mankind Unwanted Kit is made up of 1 pill called mifepristone and 4 pills called misoprostol that your OB/GYN can give you. These are taken to terminate an unwanted ... Read more »

How to Take Control of Your Health

No matter what our existing health, financial, mental, economic, or social situation is, there are things we can each do to take (better) control of our own health. No one ... Read more »

How to Take Care of Yourself

Taking care of yourself can feel like a really big task, but it doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Learn to manage your physical, mental, and emotional health so that you ... Read more »

Japanese shadow painting master delivers hope, delight in Seoul

Read more »

How to Store Ascorbic Acid

Ascorbic acid, or ascorbate, is another name for vitamin C. Ascorbic acid helps your body grow and repair itself and is an essential nutrient. Unfortunately, it is also very delicate ... Read more »

How to Stop Touching Your Face

Touching your face can cause clogged pores and spread acne-causing bacteria. One of the worst habits you can have when dealing with acne is continually touching your face—or worse, picking ... Read more »