Emergency room wait times in Saskatchewan unchanged
National average climbs
When it comes to emergency room wait times, Saskatchewan is for the most part holding steady, according to the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) report released this week.
Nicole Loreti, program lead for clinical administrative data bases with the CIHI said that people in Saskatchewan who do not need to be admitted to hospital are not waiting any longer or any less when they go to the emergency room than they were in 2015.
“When we look at the bulk of emergency department visits in Saskatchewan, nine out of 10 (emergency department) visits were completed in 10.1 hours, the same as in 2015,” Loreti said told the Times-Herald on Thursday.
The 10.1-hour figure is the average amount of time patients that do not need to be admitted to the hospital will wait before being released. In terms of this metric, Saskatchewan is doing worse than the rest of the country, which averages 7.8 hours.
For people who go to the emergency room and end up needing to be admitted to hospital, nine out 10 patients find their way to where they need to be after an average of 31.3 hours in Saskatchewan ER. This is a nine per cent increase from 2015, but is lower than the national average of 32.6 hours. Loreti explained that this second category is an important one to look at when compiling data like this.
Saskatchewan was not alone in seeing an increase in this regard. CIHI found that it was a rising trend across Canada and has been for the last five years.
“It does suggest this a larger system issue,” Loreti said, adding that pinpointing a single cause is impossible.
“Emergency department wait times are influenced by a lot of things, it’s a complex issue, there could be factors at both the hospital level and in the community,” she said.
These factors can include issues at the hospital level like staffing, or the way a facility is managed. Another factor could be if there is a shortage in long-term care beds, or limited access to home care. Geography can also play a part in how quickly someone accesses care.
Having to wait longer in an emergency room could cause some issues for patients. Specifically, Loreti said, for seniors who get caught up waiting.
“They might be more vulnerable and have worse outcomes,” she said.
The data is gathered through the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS), which is a database that CIHI runs and administers.
“For Saskatchewan, we have about 293,000 emergency department visits submitted to us … and that represents 45 per cent of (ER) visits happening in the province,” she said.
The report did not look at any of the financial costs of longer wait times.
No one from the Five Hills Health Region was available to talk about the report on Thursday, but he spoke to the Times-Herald in November, the region’s vice president of people and quality, Kyle Matthies, said that when it comes to moving patients efficiently at the F.H. Wigmore Regional Hospital’s emergency room during surge times, there is still more work to be done.
“We’re not there yet, performance wise, so we still have more work to do there,” he said.
Matthies stressed at the time that there is more to health care than simply what goes on inside the walls of a hospital.
In Hospital Checkup, a Times-Herald series reporting on the state of the new hospital after two years, dissatisfaction with the emergency room was one of the key aspects the public was eager to report. It is also the place where all the problems in the health care system tend to manifest themselves to the most clearly.
“The majority of health care is happening out in the community, with family physicians, with home care, that’s where it’s happening,” Matthies said.
He added that it is important to do as much as possible to keep people out of hospitals, and that hospitals need to do their job and move people to where they need to be, while giving them the time they need to recover. He added that people do also need supports available to them in the community when they are released.
The Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) released a report Wednesday showing people are spending more time waiting in emergency departments.