Doctors say MRI, CT exam wait times in Edmonton are putting patients at risk

Feb 19 2020, 5:25 pm

Edmonton doctors are expressing concerns about wait times for important diagnostic testing such as CT and MRI exams.

According to doctors with the Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association (EZMSA), long wait lists are putting patients in jeopardy and forcing them to pay out of pocket for important tests that can determine if a patient has cancer as well as the stage of that cancer.

The issue is so dire, they say, that some patients are being told to leave the country to seek care.

“Delays with wait times put people’s life at risk and increases total health care cost,” said Dr. Ernst Schuster, President of the EZMSA, in a release.

“In addition to cancer diagnostics, these exams are needed to diagnose a stroke, multiple sclerosis and other significant illnesses.”

In Edmonton, patients have significantly longer average wait times for MRI and CT scans than other provinces.

According to the EZMSA, the average wait time is 375 days for an MRI exam at the University of Alberta Hospital.

“In our neighbour provinces patients are waiting 30 days in Saskatchewan and 44 days in British Columbia,” said the release.

“Patients are waiting an average of 297 days today for a CT exam at the Leduc Community Hospital. Next door, patients are waiting 17 days in Saskatchewan and 21 days in BC”

The group says that a growing and aging population leads to an increased need for this type of diagnostic screening and that the provincial government needs to provide funding to meet the high demand.

According to the EZMSA, in the last seven years, the number of people waiting has grown 75% for MRI exams and 341% for CT exams.

“Doctors in Edmonton are extremely concerned for their patients and what this means to Canadian public health care,” said the release.

The Edmonton Zone Medical Staff Association represents 1,600 physicians for local issues in the Edmonton Zone.