Periodically surveying wait times for specialist health services in Canada captures current data and enables comparisons with previous surveys to identify changes over time.
During one week in April 2012, Canadian gastroenterologists were asked to complete a questionnaire (online or by fax) recording demographics, reason for referral, and dates of referral and specialist visits for at least 10 consecutive new patients (five consultations and five procedures) who had not been seen previously for the same indication. Wait times were determined for 18 indications and compared with those from similar surveys conducted in 2008 and 2005.
Data regarding adult patients were provided by 173 gastroenterologists for 1374 consultations, 540 procedures and 293 same-day consultations and procedures. Nationally, the median wait times were 92 days (95% CI 85 days to 100 days) from referral to consultation, 55 days (95% CI 50 days to 61 days) from consultation to procedure and 155 days (95% CI 142 days to 175 days) (total) from referral to procedure. Overall, wait times were longer in 2012 than in 2005 (P
Cites: Can J Gastroenterol. 2006 Jun;20(6):411-2316779459
Early recognition and treatment of pediatric rheumatic diseases is associated with improved outcome. We documented access to pediatric rheumatology subspecialty care for children in British Columbia (BC), Canada, referred to the pediatric rheumatology clinic at BC Children's Hospital, Vancouver.
An audit of new patients attending the outpatient clinic from May 2006 to February 2007 was conducted. Parents completed a questionnaire through a guided interview at the initial clinic assessment. Referral dates were obtained from the referral letters. Patients were classified as having rheumatic disease, nonrheumatic disease, or a pain syndrome based on final diagnosis by a pediatric rheumatologist.
Data were collected from 124 of 203 eligible new patients. Before pediatric rheumatology assessment, a median of 3 healthcare providers were seen (range 1-11) for a median of 5 visits (range 1-39). Overall, the median time interval from symptom onset to pediatric rheumatology assessment was 268 days (range 13-4989), and the median time interval from symptom onset to referral to pediatric rheumatology was 179 days (range 3-4970). Among patients ultimately diagnosed with rheumatic diseases (n = 53), there was a median of 119 days (range 3-4970) from symptom onset to referral, and 169 days (range 31-4989) from onset to pediatric rheumatology assessment.
Children and adolescents with rheumatic complaints see multiple care providers for multiple visits before referral to pediatric rheumatology, and there is often a long interval between symptom onset and this referral.
During the past century, long-term care in the United States has evolved through five cycles of development, each lasting approximately twenty years. Each, focusing on distinct concerns, produced unintended consequences. Each also added a layer to an accumulation of contradictory approaches--a patchwork system now pushed to the breaking point by increasing needs and financial pressures. Future policies must achieve a better synthesis of approaches inherited from the past, while addressing their unintended consequences. Foremost must be assuring access to essential care, delivery of high-quality services in an increasingly deinstitutionalized system, and a reduction in social and economic disparities.
Many countries experience persistent or increasing socioeconomic disparities in specialist care. This study examines the socioeconomic distribution of elective surgery from 1992 to 2003 in Finland.
Administrative registers were used to identify common elective procedures performed in all public and private hospitals in Finland in 1992-2003. Patients' individual sociodemographic data came from 1990-2003 census and employment statistics databases. First coronary revascularisation, hip and knee replacement, lumbar disc operation, cataract extraction, hysterectomy and prostatectomy on residents aged 25-84 years were analysed. Age-standardized procedure rates by income quintile were calculated for both genders, and concentration indices were developed and applied to age-standardized procedure rates in 5% income groups for each study year.
Most procedure rates increased during the study period. Three trends emerged: declining inequality for coronary revascularisations, an increase and then a decline in cataract extractions and primary knee replacements among men, and positive relationships between income and treatment for hysterectomy and lumbar disc operations.
Our results suggest that structural features - uneven availability, co-payments and plurality of provision - sustain inequity in access; decreasing inequities reflect directed service expansion. Increased attention to collective, prospective funding of primary and specialist ambulatory care is required to increase equity of access to elective surgery.
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Policies of administration and availability of EEG offered during nonbusiness hours vary widely among EEG laboratories. The authors surveyed medical directors of accredited EEG laboratories (n = 84) to determine the ranges of availability and clinical indications for approval of continuously available emergent EEG (E-EEG). Of 46 respondents, 37 (80%) offered E-EEG. Two centers recently lost funding for E-EEG. Availability was not associated with the total number of EEGs performed annually. The mean estimated response time from request to expert interpretation was 3 +/- 4 hours (range, 1-24 hours). The five clinical indications for which most respondents approved E-EEGs were possible nonconvulsive status epilepticus (100%), treatment of status epilepticus (84%), cerebral death exam (81%), diagnosis of convulsive status epilepticus (79%), and diagnosis of coma or encephalopathy (70%). Respondents disagreed widely when asked which clinical situations merited E-EEG, with some approving all requests and others denying all except for nonconvulsive status epilepticus. The wide range of current practice suggests that research focused on outcomes of aggressive, EEG-aided patient evaluation and treatment are needed to define better the costs and benefits of a continuously available EEG service.
Restrictions on the nonurgent use of hospital services were imposed in March 2003 to control an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Toronto, Ont. We describe the impact of these restrictions on health care utilization and suggest lessons for future epidemics.
We performed a retrospective population-based study of the Greater Toronto Area (hereafter referred to as Toronto) and unaffected comparison regions (Ottawa and London, Ont.) before, during and after the SARS outbreak (April 2001-March 2004). We determined the adjusted rates of hospital admissions, emergency department and outpatient visits, diagnostic testing and drug prescribing.
During the early and late SARS restriction periods, the rate of overall and medical admissions decreased by 10%-12% in Toronto; there was no change in the comparison regions. The rate of elective surgery in Toronto fell by 22% and 15% during the early and late restriction periods respectively and by 8% in the comparison regions. The admission rates for urgent surgery remained unchanged in all regions; those for some acute serious medical conditions decreased by 15%-21%. The rates of elective cardiac procedures declined by up to 66% in Toronto and by 71% in the comparison regions; the rates of urgent and semi-urgent procedures declined little or increased. High-acuity visits to emergency departments fell by 37% in Toronto, and inter-hospital patient transfers fell by 44% in the circum-Toronto area. Drug prescribing and primary care visits were unchanged in all regions.
The restrictions achieved modest reductions in overall hospital admissions and substantial reductions in the use of elective services. Brief reductions occurred in admissions for some acute serious conditions, high-acuity visits to emergency departments and inter-hospital patient transfers suggesting that access to care for some potentially seriously ill patients was affected.
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Organized stroke care is an integrated approach to managing stroke to improve stroke outcomes by ensuring that optimal treatment is offered. However, limited information is available comparing different levels of organized care. Our aim was to determine whether escalating levels of organized care can improve stroke outcomes.
Cohort study including patients with acute ischemic stroke between July 2003 and March 2005 in the Registry of the Canadian Stroke Network (RCSN). The RCSN is the largest clinical database of patients with acute stroke patients seen at selected acute care hospitals in Canada. As stroke unit admission does not automatically imply receipt of comprehensive care, we created the organized care index to represent different levels of access to organized care ranging from 0 to 3 as determined by the presence of occupational therapy/physiotherapy, stroke team assessment, and admission to a stroke unit. The primary end point was early stroke mortality. Secondary end points include 30-day and 1-year mortality.
Overall, 3631 ischemic stroke patients were admitted to 11 hospitals. Seven day stroke mortality was 6.9% (249/3631), 30-day stroke mortality was 12.6% (457/3631), and 1-year stroke mortality was 23.6% (856/3631). Risk-adjusted 7-day mortality was 2.0%, 3.2%, 7.8%, and 22.5% for organized care index of 3, 2, 1, and 0. Higher level of care was associated with lower adjusted mortality (for organized care index 3, OR 0.03, 95% CI 0.02 to 0.07 for 7-day mortality; OR 0.09, 95% CI 0.05 to 0.17 for 30-day mortality; and OR 0.40, 95% CI 0.25 to 0.64 for 1-year mortality).
Higher level of access to care was associated with lower stroke mortality rates. Establishing a well-organized and multidisciplinary system of stroke care will help improve the quality of service delivered and reduce the burden of stroke.
To investigate how parental country of birth and individual gender affect utilisation of psychiatric care in adolescents.
On the basis of data from the Longitudinal Multilevel Analysis in Scania database, the article employs logistic regression to analyse the utilisation of psychiatric care among adolescents aged 13-18 (n = 92203) who were living in the southern Swedish county of Scania in 2005.
Adolescents whose parents were born in middle- or low-income countries presented lower levels of psychiatric outpatient care utilisation than those with native parents. Initially, no associations were found between the utilisation of psychiatric inpatient care and parental country of birth. Following adjustment for socio-demographic variables, it was found that adolescents with parents born in low-income countries were less likely to utilise psychiatric inpatient care. Girls presented higher levels of psychiatric care utilisation, but controls for possible interactions revealed that this was true primarily for girls with parents born in Sweden or other high-income countries.
The different utilisation patterns found among adolescents with different backgrounds should be taken into consideration when planning and designing psychiatric care for adolescents, and when allocating resources. Our results may indicate lower levels of mental health problems among adolescents with parents born in middle- or low-income countries implying that protective factors compensate other stressors implicated in mental health problems. On the other hand, our findings may indicate an unmet health-care need as a result of problems accessing care.
The Multiple Sclerosis National Competence Center, Haukeland University Hospital, Department of Clinical Medicine, Section for Neurology, University of Bergen, Bergen, Norway. email@example.com
National guidelines for immunomodulatory treatment in multiple sclerosis (MS) were established in Norway in 2001. However, the nation-wide treatment practice has not been evaluated since. We therefore obtained information of all patients who have received prescriptions for the approved immunomodulatory medications, interferon-beta (Betaferon, Avonex, Rebif) and glatiramer acetate (Copaxone) registered in the Norwegian Prescription Database (Reseptregisteret). We also made a survey of patients treated with mitoxantrone (Novantrone) as well as patients supplied with immunomodulatory drugs in treatment trials. To further calculate the treatment frequency, a nation-wide prevalence of MS in Norway was estimated, based on available prevalence studies.
The estimated frequency of MS was approximately 150/100,000 in southern Norway and 100/100,000 in northern Norway. The treatment frequencies varied from 15% to 47% between the different counties with a frequency of 28% for the whole country.
Substantial differences in treatment frequencies between counties were detected, reflecting major differences in clinical practice within the country. This calls for increased focus on clinical application of the established treatment guidelines.
Canada's health care system has undergone major changes since 1990. In Saskatchewan, 52 small rural hospitals funded for less than eight beds stopped receiving funding for acute care services in 1993. Most were subsequently converted to primary health care centers. Since then, concerns have been raised about the impact of the changes on rural residents' access to care, their health status, and the viability of rural communities. To assess the impact of hospital closures on the affected communities, we conducted a multi-faceted, province-wide study. We looked at hospital use patterns, health status, rural residents' perceptions of the impact of these hospital closures, and how communities responded to the changes. We found the hospital closures did not adversely affect rural residents' health status or their access to inpatient hospital services. Despite widespread fears that health status would decline, residents in these communities reported that hospital closures did not adversely affect their own health. Although some communities continue to struggle with changes to health care delivery, others appear to have adapted as a result of strong community leadership, the development of widely accepted alternative services, and local support for creating innovative solutions. Good rural health care does not depend on the presence of a very small hospital that cannot, in today's environment, provide genuinely acute care. It requires creative approaches to the provision of primary care, good emergency services, and good communication with the public on the intent and outcomes of change.