OMA Estimates Pandemic Backlog Of Almost 16 Million Health-Care Services

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The COVID-19 pandemic has created a backlog of almost 16 million health-care services, or more than one for every Ontario resident, according to new estimates taken from OHIP data and released today by the Ontario Medical Association.

The OMA compared OHIP billings for six procedures in 2020 and the same period in 2021, and found the estimated backlog was greatest for MRIs (477,301), followed by CT scans (269,683), cataract surgery (90,136), knee (38,263) and hip (16,506) replacements and coronary artery bypass grafts (3,163).

“Three serious waves of infections have created a lengthy backlog of surgeries, diagnostic exams and other health-care procedures,” OMA President Dr. Adam Kassam said Wednesday.

“We have also heard from community-based family doctors and specialists, who are reporting conditions that were left undiagnosed during the pandemic as patients avoided seeking help. Some conditions have grown more serious as non-COVID patients waited longer for treatment.”

The pandemic backlog is more pronounced in community settings over hospitals, suggesting that while Ontarians have been actively getting their COVID vaccinations they have been deferring visits with their family doctors where they could have been screened and treated for chronic conditions.

Highlights:

  • Total estimated backlog of 15.9 million health-care services across all services and settings
  • The backlog is greater in community settings (9.6 million) than in hospitals (6.5 million)
  • Clearing the backlog working at 120 per cent would take:
    • 22 months for knee replacements
    • 21 months for cataract surgeries
    • 14 months for hip replacements
    • 10 months for cardiac surgery
    • 10 months for MRIs
    • 4 months for CT scans

The OMA has posted an infographic with this information at the bottom of this page.

The pandemic backlog estimated by the OMA is in addition to the wait list for procedures that existed before the pandemic began.

The OMA is developing recommendations on how to address the backlog so that Ontario patients can get the care they need as quickly as possible.

The OMA data follows a recent report by the province’s Financial Accountability Office that showed it will take more than three years and $1.3 billion to clear the backlog of surgeries and diagnostic procedures. Ontario’s Science Table said in April that almost a quarter million Ontarians were waiting for surgery.

Addressing the surgery backlog will require supportive services such as home care, long-term care and primary care as the pandemic’s impacts reach beyond operating rooms.

Ontario’s doctors expect the demand for mental health and addictions care will exist and grow for years after the CVID-19 pandemic. Mental health diagnoses attributed to the 1918 Influenza Pandemic continued for six years after it ended.

“The pandemic has created a significant backlog of services and procedures that will require a multi-disciplinary and collaborative approach to address,” said OMA CEO Allan O’Dette. “The OMA is committed to working closely with government and other allied health professionals on practical solutions to wait times for diagnostic tests and treatments that Ontarians need.”

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