Monday, September 19, 2011

The Canadian Health Care Crisis Just Became Personal

This week has brought my family up close and personal with Canada’s overburdened and sometimes depersonalized health care system.  Last Wednesday my mother broke her leg.  My dad took her to the nearest emergency (at the Durham hospital) where she was evaluated and sent home with a partial cast to wait for surgery.  The attending MD also prescribed Ibuprofen as my mom mentioned she doesn’t tolerate some Tylenol (most likely due to the codeine).  The pharmacist rightfully caught the fact that my mother was scheduled for surgery and Ibuprofen can thin the blood leading to potential bleeding problems in the operating room.  After some phone calls, this was worked out and she was re-prescribed Tylenol without codeine. 

My mom was then referred to the Grey Bruce Regional Health Centre in Owen Sound (Ontario) for surgery to pin the broken tibia in her right leg.  She was told she would be able to get in within the next couple of days.

My family called the hospital on Thursday several times and were told that things were too busy to take my mother in yet but said if she got a letter from the attending MD she could go to London Ontario and wait for her surgery there.  However, she chose to wait for an opening in Owen Sound (which is only 30 minutes away) instead of driving 3 hours to London with a partially casted, extremely painful broken leg.

On Friday my family called the Owen Sound hospital and were told that there was no record of my mother requiring surgery and they would need get her information again.  By that afternoon, the hospital found her information and mom was booked in for surgery at 10 am Saturday morning.  She was instructed not to have any food or water. 

On Saturday morning she arrived at the hospital expecting surgery by 10 am.  However, after a 9 hour wait, without food, water, or painkillers, she was told that there was a mix-up with her 10 o’clock surgery time and she would be rescheduled.  At this point, the swelling around her broken tibia had gone down which allowed the bone to separate and move freely with the slightest movement.  This caused her excruciating pain.  So, on Saturday night she was put up in the hospital and rescheduled for surgery again the next morning. 

Finally, at noon Sunday morning (5 full days after breaking her leg) my mother underwent surgery to get two pins and a plate placed into her leg as well as an unexpected bone graft and muscle repair.  What an ordeal. 

It is hard to believe that this happens in Canada.  I have always stated that conventional medicine is ultimately best suited for acute situations but I’m beginning to have my doubts that this generalization can be applied to all hospitals in Canada.  Shame on the Grey Bruce Regional Health Centre.

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