Today, I am feeling crankier than usual…
Friday, I went to see my dentist, because a whole bunch of my teeth are so sensitive now that I could not, in good conscience, delay the visit any more. My three-branch nerve has always been ‘twitchy’ and as soon as one tooth gets a little sore, it decides to sound all the nerves connected to it, so it makes identifying the culprit difficult, at times.
Which was the case on Friday – so my regular dentist sent me to a dentist who specializes in figuring out exactly these kind of cases.
His receptionist called and set the appointment up for me – it was this morning, Monday, at 8 am.
Just think about it: I have discomfort, my dentist calls a specialist and I get to see said specialist the next business day. (They offered me a couple of appointments this week to choose from…)
Some of you might think that spending early Monday morning having my sore teeth intentionally prodded and poked to get a sufficient reaction to single out the ‘bad’ tooth would be enough to make me crankier than usual. You would be right…
But, what has annoyed me even more than my aching three-branch-nerve is what I heard on the radio on the way: it now takes about a year for Canadians to see a medical specialist!
Same scenario as the one with the dentist : your family doctor finds something wrong and wants to send you to a specialist. The receptionist makes a few calls to get you an appointment. If you are lucky, you’ll get one - in a year!!!
Of course, this varies from specialist to specialist.
For example, my father had a sports injury and he got in to see a specialist in just 9 weeks! Of course, by then, he had healed on his own…
My own experience is worse: I have now been on a waiting list to see a hematologist for over 3 years – and I am beginning to suspect I fell off the end of the list…and, when my specialist doctor (who looks after my particular, serious illness) got sick himself, it took over a year before another doctor would take my care over from him.
(This ‘list’ is a trick to reduce the appearance of waiting times: once given an appointment, there is a visible amount of ‘waiting time’ which is measured between when the appointment was issued to when you see the doctor. This ‘waiting time’ is monitored and reported – and ‘efficiency awards’ are issued based on this period of time. So, people get their name put on an unofficial, untracked ‘list’ and when they get to the top, they get assigned an appointment with a short waiting time. People can be on such a list for years, but this time is not part of the official reports of how long it takes to see a doctor.)
The last time I was walking through one of our hospitals, there were signs posted everywhere that ‘the results of biopsies will be sent back to the referring physicians in 6-8 weeks’.
6 to 8 weeks!!!
For a biopsy result!!!
That, of course, means that with some forms of cancer, the patient will die (or the disease will advance to an untreatable stage) before the diagnosis is confirmed and before they get on the waiting list for treatment!!!
So, how come I can get to see a dentist right away, but I wait years – if I make it at all – to see a medical specialist?
Could it be that dentistry is only constrained by the free-market while Canadian medical delivery is controlled at every step by the government?
Remember, if you are not the one paying the bill, then you are not the customer!
Yes, that is enough to make a cranky person even crankier…but, that is still not the bit that drives me ‘beyond cranky’.
No, it’s not.
That honour would be reserved for the latest attitudes our southern cousins, in the US, have towards ‘medicine’.
It drives me mad when they – or, especially, US-dwelling Canadian ex-pats, who really ought to know better – tout our Canadian medical system as ‘humane’ and ‘caring’ while turning their noses up at their best-in-the-world medical system.
It’s like ‘nails-on-chalkboard’ to me when I hear them claim our (Canadian) system ‘treats everyone’ while their (American) system will not treat people who don’t have a credit card. This is simply not true: there is a law in the US that makes it illegal to turn people away from an emergency room if they don’t have a good enough credit card. There are also free clinics…
In Canada, people have died when they got turned away from the emergency room for not having their government-issued health card on them. And once, while renewing the health card, I saw a guy in the queue there who was on crutches, with his foot backward on his leg. The emergency room would not treat his complex leg fracture until he went to the main office downtown (far from any hospital) and got his paperwork straightened out…
Oh, here’s a good one: did you know that some blood tests can only be done in a hospital? The private clinics simply don’t have the tech for some specialized tests…
Hospitals for adults will not perform these tests on anyone under the age of 16 – there are strict rules.
Hospitals for children will not perform these tests on anyone over the age of 11 who is an out-patient. Even if the head nurse phones OHIP and begs for an exception – no, not permitted.
In Canada, your kids had better not need any of those tests from when they turn 12 to when they turn 16: their doctors will simply have to diagnose them without it. I know – I had been on this merry-go-round with one of my kids!
And yet, the US is not only trying to copy our medicare, the proponents of this feel all righteous and ‘noble’ about it.
Yeah, I’m cranky…