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OPINION: Unavoidable increase in wait times

The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown.
The Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Charlottetown. - -File photo

Demand for joint replacement surgery far outweighs ability to provide timely care for these patients

BY DR. SCOTT WOTHERSPOON

GUEST OPINION

We would like to provide some facts as background to the article regarding joint replacement surgery that was recently published in The Guardian on August 18, 2018.

There are five orthopedic surgeons on P.E.I. All of us perform knee replacement surgery, and three of us perform hip replacement surgery. The remainder of an orthopedic surgeon’s work on P.E.I. consists of numerous other upper and lower extremity procedures.

RELATED: Knee and hip revision surgeries, wait times, taxing P.E.I. patients and health-care system

We perform over 475 total hip and total knee replacement surgeries, and over 750 day-surgeries every year. Revision total hip and total knee surgeries are performed when the first joint replacement is no longer functioning properly. These revision surgeries account for approximately 8.7 per cent of all total joint replacements performed each year on P.E.I. - this is a similar rate found in other provinces.

For a P.E.I. patient, the median length of stay in hospital following total hip and knee replacement surgery is approximately four days. The national average for the same procedure is approximately three days.

On P.E.I., the services that a patient requires for early recovery after surgery are only available in-hospital. With the addition of comprehensive home care and in-home physiotherapy – as it exists in other provinces - the length of stay for P.E.I. patients would be expected to come down towards the national average.

Largely as a result of the aging baby boomers here on P.E.I. and in the rest of Canada, we are at a point where the demand for joint replacement surgery far outweighs our ability to provide timely care for these patients. As a result, we are unfortunately seeing an increase in our wait-times for these procedures.

As a team of orthopedic surgeons, please be assured your interests as a patient, and our population as a whole, are top of mind for us.

We are committed to working with Health P.E.I. and our elected government officials to ensure that appropriate resources are available for the current need of Islanders, while preparing for the increasing demand expected over the next two decades.

Dr. Scott Wotherspoon, orthopedic surgeon, is chief of surgery, QEH; Dr. Stephen Miller, Dr. John Campbell, Dr. Cai Wadden and Dr. Michael Carroll

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