Resources don’t match need for surgery

Posted on October 5, 2018 in Health Delivery System – Opinion/Readers’ Letters
Oct. 5, 2018.   Dr. Drew A. Bednar

Renowned spine surgeon is transforming the way Ontario deals with back pain, Sept. 28

Thank you for your recent article on leading Toronto orthopedic spine surgeon Dr. Raja Rampersaud and his outstanding initiative in driving the ISEAC spine screening clinics that may help identify the 10 per cent or so of back pain patients who can benefit from surgery.

Sadly, your article put no focus on why he developed this initiative. Dr. Rampersaud spoke of frustration seeing people wait a year to see him and then having to tell them so often that he could not help them, but not what happens when we can.

The health network where I practice is illustrative of the real issue in our health-care system.

We have just eight full-time neurosurgeons and four orthopedists serving the regional referral population of 2.4 million. Everybody has an elective wait list one to two years long.

It is months before we can look after acutely disabled people.

None of us in this province operates as much as we could under the resource restrictions of a system that has failed to match the simple growth of the population for decades, never mind the growth of technology and care options.

A colleague recently told me he’d researched where best to travel outside the country for timely hip replacement when the time comes. Waits in Ontario for hip replacement are about two years as well, despite years of effort to shorten lists and being allocated resources that spine care has never had.

Pity the Ontario spine care patient!

Dr. Drew A. Bednar, clinical professor of orthopedic surgery, McMaster University, Hamilton

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