Waiting times for surgery or treatment can be very frustrating for patients and their families. Improvements in healthcare have come a long way in the past decade, but not all areas are improving as rapidly as others. Healthcare is one of the areas that has seen the largest increase in wait times from traditional hospitals to specialty centres and even home health agencies. Many medical professionals blame this problem on understaffing and a lack of expertise in certain areas. While there may be some truth to this, it seems that other areas are seeing less delay and improvements as well.
What Are Waiting Times Currently Like?
Waiting times for surgery can take anywhere from a few weeks to a few months depending on many factors. One of the main factors is surgery location. While some surgery locations are known to have long waits, many hospitals are now offering patients the option of having surgery closer to home instead of spending weeks waiting on an extended surgical waiting list in public hospitals. This allows patients to have healthcare closer to where they live which helps improve patient care and patient satisfaction. Other factors that affect surgery waiting lists are staffing, general health, specialty training, and health expectations of patients.
In order to understand why some areas have shorter surgery waiting lists than others, patients need to look at these lists in more depth. One important factor that affects surgery waiting times is the general health of patients. A general health concern may affect how long a patient has to wait on an operating room floor. When surgery is needed quickly, waiting on an operating room floor can cause issues with the patient’s heart rate, oxygen levels, and other vital signs. On the flip side, when the patient is healthy, surgery is usually much faster and less stressful.
Another factor that directly affects surgery waiting times is the level of service provided by healthcare facilities. While there are certainly some unethical doctors who are willing to rip off patients by providing sub-par healthcare, the good news is that many hospitals have taken the initiative to implement measures to reduce unnecessary surgery wait times.
Actively Reducing Surgery Waiting Times
The reduction of surgery waiting times is not the only positive impact of better healthcare practices. There is also a decrease in patient trauma and a decrease in readmissions. This translates into fewer patients requiring additional surgery and, in turn, fewer hospitalizations and emergency room visits. The reduction in readmissions means that patients are able to recover from their injuries or illnesses faster and get back to living their lives faster. As these improvements continue to take root, healthcare costs will become more sustainable for both private and public systems.
The best news about this issue is that the improvements listed above are happening now. For example, in Phoenix, Arizona, the Arizona Department of Health Services (AZDHS) has implemented “planned surgery waiting times” into their existing ambulatory surgery centre. The planned surgery waiting time refers to the length of time that an awaiting patient must remain in the hospital before receiving an intravenous line or an IVR. In many areas of the country, patients who must stay in the hospital after receiving care have experienced unnecessarily long waiting periods. Under the new guidelines of planned surgery waiting times, patients can be expected to go home within five to eight hours of their hospitalization.