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Patients are spending more time in the emergency department before being admitted to hospital.
People spent an average of nearly 16 hours in the emergency department before being admitted to the hospital in 2017/18, more than 2 hours longer than in 2015/16, and the longest it’s been in six years.
Fewer people are seeing a specialist within 30 days.
Among people who needed to see a specialist, less than one-third (32.3%) reported seeing a specialist within 30 days of being referred to one, down from 37.8% in 2016. Across the province, the proportion of people who reported seeing a specialist in less than 30 days ranged from 25.8% to 39.4% by region.
Fewer hip and knee surgeries are being completed within target times.
The percentage of patients who have their hip or knee replacement surgery completed within the province’s maximum recommended wait time has decreased over recent years. In 2017/18, 78% of patients had their hip replacement surgery within target, down from 82% in 2014/15, and 74% of patients had their knee replacement surgery within target, down from 80% in 2014/15. There was substantial variation between hospitals, with the proportion of patients who had their surgery within target ranging from 6% to 100% for hip replacement by individual hospital, and 7% to 100% for knee replacement.
For more information on wait times for surgeries and procedures make sure to check out our interactive wait times portal
Farrah, now 31, was diagnosed with depression at 21, lupus at 23, and endometriosis at 27. This is her story of hospital stays, emergency department visits, family doctor and specialist visits, and mental health care.
Read Farrah's story
It took visits with more than a dozen doctors before Farrah was finally diagnosed with lupus at age 23. The 31-year-old graduate student says she was often sick since she was about 15, but at the time doctors told her it was a flu or a cold. In the summer of 2010, while working at a summer job in Ottawa, Farrah’s skin broke out in painful rashes. She saw a doctor who ordered a blood test that indicated she might have lupus, a chronic disease that can cause inflammation in any part of the body, including the skin, muscles, joints, lungs, heart, or brain.
From Ottawa to Ajax to Toronto
The clinic in Ottawa told her there was a three-to-six month wait to see a rheumatologist to diagnose her condition. Farrah couldn’t wait that long, as her pain was getting worse. She left Ottawa and moved back to live with her parents in Ajax, near Toronto.
“I needed help caring for myself. I was suffering from all-over body inflammation, and the possibility of failing organs,” Farrah says. Her parents rushed her to the emergency department at a hospital in Ajax, where they suspected she might have lupus, and transferred her to a hospital in Scarborough, and then a lupus clinic at a hospital in Toronto, where she was diagnosed with lupus.
After seeing specialists in Toronto, she had trouble finding the right medications. “With lupus, you can never be sure you’re getting the right meds,” Farrah says. “The meds I got gave me drug induced hepatitis, and within a week I ended up back in hospital.” Because of her condition, Farrah is not able to drive, which made the many trips to Toronto a big challenge.
Waiting for specialists
Four years later, in 2014, Farrah was diagnosed with endometriosis, a condition in which the cells that normally grow in the uterus end up growing outside the uterus. This involved more trips to the doctor in Toronto, where she felt isolated as someone with endometriosis in a clinic where most of the patients were pregnant.
She also had to arrange visits to other specialists in Toronto, including a heart specialist, lung specialist, and psychiatrist. Several times, she ended up in the emergency department of a hospital in Ajax, often waiting for five or six hours in severe pain before seeing a doctor.
Farrah also has depression, which she says gets worse when she’s in hospital and when she’s struggling with her health. She saw a family doctor in Ajax about her depression, but wait times were at least a month to see a psychiatrist, which was a long time given her state of mind. “It seemed that life could only get worse or have very negative outcomes and I didn't see any point in getting out of bed or trying to live life normally,” Farrah says. “I never wanted to be a burden to loved ones, so I tried to get help as soon as possible but was unable to, and waiting a month meant my bad thoughts spiralled to worse.”
Going into debt
When she was first diagnosed with lupus, Farrah paid tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for the medications. “It was terrible,” she says. “I remember telling my doctor, ‘I can’t afford this.’ I ended up going into a lot of debt ... He put me on another medication that was less money but didn’t work as well.” She eventually qualified for coverage through the Ontario Disability Support Program, but this didn’t cover the $90 physiotherapy sessions that have helped ease the chronic pain in her hip. Because of the cost, Farrah sees the physiotherapist far less than the weekly visits her doctor recommended.
“I’m grateful to be living in a country where I can find a specialist and don’t have to pay for doctor visits or hospital stays,” Farrah says. “If I were living in the States, I would be homeless. But Ontario’s whole system needs to be streamlined for people who aren’t there on a one-time basis.”
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