Surgery Delays and Cancellations in Canada: A Preliminary Examination of Prevalence Trends Over the Past Decade

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Noh, Edward
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Introduction: The current Canadian health care system is associated with long wait times, where short notice cancellations occur and can be associated with significant disappointment/frustration for the patient, reduction in theatre efficiency/time, increased hospital expenditures, and decreased staff morale. There is no study to date that has identified the prevalence of difficulties acquiring elective surgical procedures in Canada. Methods: The data were drawn from the cross-sectional nationally representative Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS). We calculated weighted frequencies and supplied 95% confidence intervals to assess prevalence rates of patients receiving past-year non-emergency surgery and prevalence of respondents who had difficulties acquiring surgery for each year. CCHS data files between 2005-2014 were then collapsed to a single aggregate data file to assess the prevalence of type of difficulty experienced. Weighted cross-tabulations, chi-square analyses, and t-tests were used to assess difficulties acquiring surgery across sociodemographic variables, surgery characteristics variables, and waiting times. Results: Results of the chi-square analyses suggest a significance in the prevalence of non-emergency surgery by year (X2 = 67.5, p <.001) and of difficulties acquiring surgery according to year (X2 = 83.5, p <.001). The most prevalent type of difficulty respondents endorsed for acquiring surgery was that respondents waited too long for surgery (58.5%). The results of weighted cross-tabulations and chi-square analyses indicated that the prevalence of difficulties acquiring surgery significantly differed according to sex (X2 = 4.02, p<.05). There was also significant associations between difficulty acquiring surgery with surgery and waiting time variables.