• A new report done by the Montreal Economic Institute indicates that hospital wait times have been drastically increasing in Montreal.
  • In addition, the report indicates that there are also... fewer patients and less emergency room visits...

A report from La Presse earlier this summer showed that Montreal emergency room times are steadily improving overall. Their study evaluated the average length of stay and found that hospital times were decreasing.

But the Montreal Economic Institute (MEI) instead evaluated the median length of stay and found that wait times were in fact drastically increasing despite record low patient numbers. 

Emergency room wait times fluctuate depending on how you look at them. The MEI reports that "the median length of stay for patients on stretchers increased by 14 minutes (to 9.4 hours), erasing a good part of last year’s reduction. It increased by two minutes (to 3.3 hours) for ambulatory patients, and by five minutes (to 4.6 hours) for all patients combined". For patients waiting around in the ER, minutes could mean life and death. 

The report continues that "in many Quebec hospitals, especially in Montreal and in the neighbouring communities to the north and south, stays of ten or twelve hours for an infection or minor injury are not uncommon".

If you've lived in the province for any amount of time and have visited the ER, you know this all too well.

MEI evaluates wait times using the median rather than the average because according to them, "it is less influenced by the extremes and more representative of patients’ experience". 

The chart below shows the variances between the 2017-2018 fiscal year and the 2018-2019 fiscal year when measuring the median length of stay.

Translation: Hundreds of millions more in funding, less emergency room visits in the province, wait times increase despite it all!

As you can see, there was a 1.7% decrease in patient volume in the year and the number of urgent patients continues to fall (except for people 75 and older), according to the MEI report. 

READ ALSO: We Spoke To A Montreal Plastic Surgeon About The Biggest Surgery Trends In The City

The report claims that "the public administration of hospitals seems to have reached its limits, and our health care system’s chronic problems seem to have worsened". 

From a Montrealer's perspective, this might indeed seem like the case for all ER visits. The author of the report, Patrick Déry does offer some solutions to this problem.

He suggests that Montreal hospitals start to privatize services. Déry suggests that private, for-profit hospitals can work in concert with universal healthcare. He cites Europe as an excellent example of the harmony that exists between privatized hospitals and a public system. 

Quebec does have some hospitals that are private and wait times at those institutions in comparison to public ones is like night and day according to the report.

Whether privatization or complete systematic hospital reform is the solution, ER patients in Montreal continue to suffer from astronomical wait times. It's been a problem in this province for as long as there's been universal healthcare. 

Like many problems in this province, the solutions are never easy. Just don't be surprised next time you experience longer than usual wait times in a Montreal ER.

To read the full report, head to the MEI webpage here.

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