Surgical, diagnostic backlog continues to grow: Doctors Manitoba

Numbers released by Doctors Manitoba Tuesday show the province's diagnostic and surgical backlog continues to grow. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah McKay/Pool Photo via AP. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Hannah McKay/Pool Photo via AP

Doctors Manitoba says the number of patients waiting for surgeries and diagnostic tests continues to grow, despite government efforts to tame the backlog.

The organization representing physicians across Manitoba estimates there are nearly 168,000 cases to be made up since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Read more: Diagnostic procedure, surgery backlog swells under Omicron: Doctors Manitoba

That’s roughly 6,300 more than the group calculated last month.

“Our latest estimates reflect the continued disruptions to surgery and diagnostic testing that occurred during the Omicron wave,” Doctors Manitoba president, Dr. Kristjan Thompson, said in a release Tuesday.

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​“Physicians are encouraged by recent updates suggesting surgical volumes are returning to normal in many hospitals, though pre-pandemic volumes alone won’t help to clear the massive backlog.

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“New capacity must be added to help those Manitobans who are still left waiting in pain and uncertainty.”

Read more: Doctors Manitoba warns of mounting delays across health-care system

According to numbers provided by Doctors Manitoba, the estimated pandemic backlog now includes:

  • 54,820 surgeries (as of January 2022), an increase of 2,493 over the last month’s estimate;
  • 45,251 diagnostic imaging procedures (as of January 2022), up 2,762 cases over last month’s estimate;
  • 67,816 other diagnostic procedures (as of February 2022), including allergy tests, endoscopies, mammograms, sleep disorder studies, and lung function tests, an increase of 1,047 cases over last month’s estimate.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has strained intensive care units, which have had to draw nurses and other workers from other areas of health care. That in turn has caused postponements and cancellations of non-COVID-19 surgeries and diagnostic tests.

The Manitoba government announced a task force in December to tackle the backlog of surgeries and diagnostic tests.

Read more: Modest improvements to Manitoba’s surgery, diagnostic backlog: task force

The latest update from the task force, released earlier this month, showed modest improvements, including a 12 per cent decrease in the backlog for CT scans, a 16 per cent reduction in the wait for ultrasounds, and a 13 per cent drop in the wait for MRIs.

The province also said many of the hospital staff who had been redeployed during the pandemic were expected to return to their normal duties by mid March.

–With files from Will Reimer and The Canadian Press

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Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

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