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No fewer than 2,300 non-COVID patients died on surgical wait lists in 2020

21708547 - mid adult woman talking to doctor about her diagnosis
  • SecondStreet.org releases government data showing over 10,000 patients died while waiting on all categories of wait lists

Think tank SecondStreet.org released today government data that shows over 10,000 patients died while waiting for surgery, a procedure, diagnostic scan or appointment with a specialist between April 1, 2019 – December 31, 2020. Included in that total are 2,367 patients who passed away while waiting for surgery during calendar year 2020, which covers eight months of the pandemic period.

SecondStreet.org gathered the data by filing freedom of information requests across the country. The findings are summarized in a new policy brief – Died on a waiting list. Each health body’s freedom of information response can be viewed at www.secondstreet.org.

“The most unfortunate part about so many patients dying on waiting lists in our health care system is that many of these tragedies could have been prevented,” said Colin Craig, President of SecondStreet.org. “Health reform could save lives and improve the quality of life that patients experience in their final years. Australia, New Zealand, Norway, there are many other countries out there with both universal health care and better outcomes for patients.”

  • Lack of data: Many governments do not track data on patient deaths while waiting for surgery/medical appointments. Thus, the totals in this report are underreported.
  • Fiscal year 2019-20: Government data shows there were at least 2,256 patient deaths while waiting for surgery and 6,202 deaths while waiting for diagnostic scans or appointments with specialists.
  • Calendar year 2020: SecondStreet.org filed additional requests for data during the pandemic period. This data shows over 2,367 patients died while waiting for surgery in 2020.
  • Wide array of cases: Patients passed away while waiting for procedures which could be linked with their cause of death (eg. cardiac surgery), as well as procedures which could have increased their quality of life (eg. cataract surgery). Patient deaths occurred after waiting less than one month to more than eight years.

“Governments postponed hundreds of thousands of surgeries, procedures and appointments with specialists during the pandemic,” added Craig. “If we don’t see meaningful health reform, we should expect to see even more patient suffering in the years ahead.”

To view the Died on a waiting list policy brief – click here


DATA FROM HEALTH REGIONS / HOSPITAL:

BC – Interior Health
– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

BC – Fraser Health
– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

AB – Alberta Health

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

SK – Ministry of Health

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths –click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

MB – Prairie Mountain Health
– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Hospital for Sick Children

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Guelph General Hospital

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Trillium Health Partners

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Queens Way Carleton Hospital

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Sinai Health System

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Southlake Regional Health Centre

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Mackenzie Health

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Scarborough Health Network

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – London Health Sciences Centre

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Hamilton Health Sciences Corp.

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – The Ottawa Hospital

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Thunder Bay Regional Health Sciences Centre

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Lakeridge Health (Oshawa)

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Markham-Stouffville Hospital

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Hôpital Montfort

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Halton Health Care

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Niagara Health Systems

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here

ON – Ontario Health (Central Tracking)

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

NS – Nova Scotia Health Authority

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2019/20 Fiscal year diagnostic scan waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

PEI – Health PEI

– 2019/20 Fiscal year surgical waiting list deaths – click here
– 2020 Calendar year surgical waiting list deaths – click here

UPDATE: This news release was updated on July 8, 2021 to revise the longest waiting period a patient went through from six years to eight years.

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