You'd rather pay? Hopefully, you don't need much in the way of medical attention.
I find it sad yet believable to hear these stories about our ERs. I have to say, my few experiences with ERs in Toronto (two in 20 years, both at St. Mike's), were fine. Once I showed up with my partner who was having some kind of allergic reaction, and from the moment we walked in the door he was in a bed with treatment occurring in 15 minutes. However, this is not to dismiss anything that has been said here.
I wish Canada would get around seeing medicare in only certain terms, without in any way at all emulating the USA, but perhaps looking at France (which has the highest rates of satisfaction anywhere).
The problem with Canada is not only lack of doctors but also lack of medical "skill". Look at Newfoundland and Labrador Premier Danny Williams case. Even Canada's top leader don't trust Canadian doctors.
Having had 4 active children, coached minor sports for years and being married to a wife who has been dealt an unfortunate hand in the poker game of life I can assure I have visited many "Emerges" over the years.
The happiest story starts with me managing to drop a light fixture on my head (the good part is later) producing lots and lots of blood and a plethora of bad words. Off to the North York General at 9:30 am to be seen immediately, cleaned up, shots for Tetanus, 8 nifty new stitches in my bald head and on my way home before 11:00 am.
I believe the tales told by other posters, especially the appalling conditions at Toronto East General and Scarborough General. There are 2 major reasons for the problem, one, there are too many people there for the wrong reasons such as back pain or sniffles. The second reason as has been noted above is the lack of Doctors, often only one on duty.
Can a Hospital that pays their CEO hundreds of thousands of dollars not afford to pay another Intern to move things along?
Assuming that the Province pays Hospitals for their "Emergency" operations, how do they pay, by services rendered or by the time it takes to render that service? My observations lean toward the latter, how else to explain a business model that seems to maximize the waiting time by saving the cost of more staff. If the payment were geared to services rendered wouldn't you strive to treat more people as quickly as possible?
A neighbour's cousin went to a for-profit clinic in the US for elective surgery--a gastric bypass. She had the operation and spent a day or two in the 'post-op ward' - a hotel near the hospital. As soon as she got home, she started feeling unwell. She had a horrible infection and was admitted to hospital. After eighteen months on a feeding tube, they buried her.
Peel Memorial Hospital in Brampton was infamous for ER overcrowding and really nasty staff. One time, I was helping my brother (who was in severe GI pain) to the front when he was finally called 3 hours - I was yelled at by the extremely nasty charge nurse because I wasn't called. I would have said some nasty things back, but given they have full time cops on duty there, and also knowing it wouldn't help anyway, I said nothing.
When they opened up the new hospital, the same problems - a place like Brampton is way too big for one ER.
Usually Humber River has the worst horror stories. I think the downtown teaching hospitals are the best bet. The line ups aren't going to be much better, but the staff are kinder.
<Anecdotal Story>, I think Canadian healthcare is the best/terrible!
That out of the way, the average wait time in an American emergency room is 3 hours, 42 minutes. Emergency is tough regardless of healthcare system, especially as a significant percentage of American patients aren't going to end up paying their bill anyway. People are going to have bad experiences in emergency rooms all over the world. It's something we should address but I do not believe giving a large bill to the patient at the end of the experience would make a significant difference.
Canada's most pressing problem at the moment is a lack of family doctors, which is a training/education issue and doesn't really have a whole lot to do with the single payer system. Canada's second most pressing problem is probably lack of people willing to practice in rural/remote areas, which is something many other healthcare systems struggle with too - this was the big problem in Danny Williams' case. There were many skilled surgeons who could do his operation in Toronto or Ottawa, he opted to go to Florida. He's a multi-millionaire so he doesn't really have to think about costs.
I would not recommend going to Thailand for surgery unless you are looking to get rid of your penis. They're good at that.
You hit the nail on this one. We need more doctors. The mistake by Bob Rae and Peterson's governments in late 80's early 90's to cut back medical school numbers because we had 'too many doctors' was stupid because we had an aging population then and even more so now. Fast forward 20 years, we now don't have enough doctors. McGuinty has opened up a few more spaces in medical school but it takes at least 7 years to train a new doctor in Ontario. Thus all the extra spaces made today wont really be felt until at least 10 years from now.
We need to push governments to allow more immigrants with foreign medical degrees to practice their trade here by doing re-certifications or re-accreditation to get their degrees/medical licenses approved here and of course make more space available in medical schools as a permanent solution. You can never have enough doctors, and as our population continues to age we will need more and more doctors and medical services in the years to come.
TEGH is where I first worked when I moved here from Montreal. I was shocked at how behind the times it was..I left after 2 months. It was like working in a hospital from 70's. The worst hospital I have ever experienced though is HRRH near Jane/Wilson....scary
Comparing the United States emergency department to Canadas is pointless. Most Americans avoid going to emergency like the plague and doctors in general so it shouldn't come as any surprise overcrowding is not nearly as big an issue. It doesn't mean their system works when children with minor to serious infections go untreated because the $180 script and the $200 perscription (the same perscription costing $30 here) is too much for the family to bear.
TEGH and SGH are horribly outdated but it does appear that is at least now being addressed. The expansion and renovation of SGH is night and day and TEGH redevelopment will amount to a new hospital being built.
Health Care is a difficult issue for just about everyone, and I agree with maestro that comparisons with the US are faulty. Certainly, I think the reason that the US spends so much money on healthcare with poor outcomes is that the profit motive / insurance does tend to keep people away from hospitals if they can avoid it at all, which means that conditions become chronic. I found this recent example from Boston to be quite telling:
For example, Children's Hospital in Boston came up with a checklist for asthma patients, children who are severely asthmatic enough to end up admitted to the hospital. And they recognized that a couple of components were key: making phone calls to the families to make sure the children were taking their inhalers, and having a look at their apartments to make sure that -- or homes -- to make sure that dust and mites were not a problem in the homes. By tackling just those two things, they reduced admissions for kids with asthma by 87 percent. But asthma was their number one admission to Children's Hospital. And the found this experiment lost them millions of dollars. And so they suddenly were face to face with, well, maybe we need to shut down this program in order to survive as a hospital. That's when you know there's just something wrong with the way we are designing our system.Link By the way, I don't believe they did shut down the program, but that's some serious screwed up.