Not enough community services

Ovens said that in his three decades at Mount Sinai, there hasn’t been much change in the percentage of patients coming in with conditions that could have been treated elsewhere.

Our extra-institutional services are crap in Canada.

Sore throats, colds and the flu are among the top reasons for potentially avoidable visits, according to the report. Some people come into the emergency department to fill repeat prescriptions, said a CIHI representative.

Nearly half of all respondents in a CIHI study said they can’t get in to see their family doctor in a timely manner. Some experts recommend family doctors offer better availability on evenings and weekends.

To unclog emergency departments and improve patient care, Sholom Glouberman, president of Patients Canada, said more government resources should go toward community-based health care.

“Our extra-institutional services are crap in Canada,” he said. “The vicious cycle in Canada is that because we don’t have services in the community, people are forced into the emergency room.”

Funding for emergency rooms is then taken out of community services such as preventative health care programs and public health education, he said.

Glouberman said CIHI’s figures actually sound low; he expects that the proportion of emergency room patients who should be seeing a family doctor instead is more than one in five.

Infants and children under the age of 5 have the highest rate of preventable emergency room visits, according to the study.

The study looked at emergency room patients who did not need a hospital bed at hospitals in Ontario, Alberta, the Yukon, Saskatchewan, Nova Scotia and P.E.I., between April 2013 and March 2014.

Reprinted with permission from Torstar Syndication Service

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