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.

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