Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Canadian Health Care Horror Story

Woman dies waiting in ER As AG finds little movement

Lee said her 41-year-old daughter, Marlene Stephens, died Saturday after waiting nearly 90 minutes at the William Osler Health Centre’s Etobicoke campus emergency room with breathing problems.

Lee feels her daughter was not seen fast enough by medical staff.

“They didn’t touch her,” said the grieving Lee. “She was crying out, ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe’. . . Nobody attended to my daughter.”

The Canadian government is mystified.

On Monday, Auditor General Jim McCarter released his annual report which found that despite putting an extra $200 million into shortening emergency room wait times over the last two years, “significant province-wide progress has not yet been made.”

Under the Canadian health care system, which is famously "free", there is still a price for medical care: waiting times.

As effort and money are expended to increase staff so as to reduce those times, more people (who maybe wouldn't put up with a 12 hour wait, but are OK with, say, 6 hours) go to the ER. As more resources are added, more patients show up and waiting times end up the same.

The good and honorable Auditor General would do well to bone up on basic economics, but he'd probably end up a Keynesian anyway. So the message would be lost.

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