Albertans wait longer for CT scans; Sudburians forced to pay for PET

Albertans wait longer for CT scans

Budget pressures are forcing Albertans to wait longer for CT scans that far exceed national wait times for acceptable care, according to Dr. Paul Parks, spokesperson for the Alberta Medical Association’s Section of Emergency Medicine.

Dr. Parks said technicians have been ordered to cut the number of non-urgent, outpatient CT scans available in the province in order to meet budget pressures and that longer waits are a result of budget constraints.

The cuts mean more patients are showing up at emergency rooms in need of diagnosis from this specialized X-ray equipment, widely used to identify cancers, injuries, some diseases and many other ailments, Dr. Parks said.

Most patients considered to be top priority for scheduled, outpatient CT scans wait up to four weeks, double what they waited in April 2015, Alberta’s health authority reported. According to targets set by the Canadian Association of Radiologists, these patients should wait just seven days.

For months in early 2015, most non-urgent patients waited up to 10 weeks for CT scans in Alberta, but their wait has steadily climbed since April, reaching 15 weeks in December, according to Alberta Health Services. The radiologist association says these patients should wait only eight weeks.

Medical experts say longer waits increase risks that patients will face complications and that undiagnosed cancers will remain untreated, though physicians can press to have scans expedited if they believe waiting would be detrimental.

Mauro Chies, an executive who oversees diagnostic imaging and other files at Alberta Health Services, denied that wait times have been climbing as a result of budgetary pressures. The health authority estimates it will perform 4,000 more CT scans for both emergency room and scheduled patients in the 2015-16 fiscal year than it did the year before, up to 391,400 scans.


Ontario forcing private volunteers to ante up $5 million

The volunteer, private sector has always been a key contributor to the publicly financed health care system, i.e., Medicare. But, as Sudbury, ON, residents, are finding out out, the price tag can be ultra steep such as the Ontario government forcing the community to pay the total bill of $5 million for PET scan technology.

According to the Ontario government, the Medicare monopoly insures PET scans where evidence is available to support them as a diagnostic tool. Until then, the only choice — aside from going outside Canada — for Sudbury residents is a four hour/10 minute drive into Toronto for a PET scan, then another four four/10 minute drive home. The cheapest fare with Air Canada is $384 return, but, if you don’t make the flight, you lose that segment of the fare.







Canada’s government-run health care system – Medicare -- is a monopoly that prohibits private hospital and private physician care. Medicare is a subpar performer, ranking 10th among 11 advanced countries. Canadians deserve much better! Patients deserve timely access to quality care and choice of hospitals and physicians. Taxpayers deserve much more value for their tax dollars.

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