A friend of mine went to the emergency department because she had severe pain in her right lower abdomen. She received a laparoscope and was notified that she required surgery immediately to get her appendix removed. While the on-call anesthesiologist was caring for a mother in labour leaving her and other patients waiting for care. She waited several hours to get access to an anesthesiologist to receive medical care before her surgical procedure. After her surgery, the surgeon stated her appendix was really severe, and they were lucky enough to perform surgery before it ruptured. If she had waited longer her appendix could’ve ruptured, and it would’ve been very dangerous and life-threatening. Based on this experience I will examine how the shortage of anesthesiologists is affecting the quality of care Canadians receive. Then, I will outline some possible strategies to help eliminate this shortage. The groups that will be considered are governments, healthcare organizations, and policymakers.
By 2051, it is expected one in five Canadians will be 65 years or older, compared to 17 per cent currently (Canadian Medical Association, 2010). There’s no doubt that this will gradually put a strain on the country’s healthcare system (Gulli & Lunau, 2008 p.1). Due to Canada’s aging population, and the lack of government foresight in health policies there is a shortage of anaesthesiologists, in some provinces of Canada particularly in the rural areas (Canadian Medicine Journal, 2007). Anaesthesiologists are specialist physicians who provide critical care to prevent or relieve pain of patients during surgical or other medical procedures (American Society of Anesthesiologists, 2008). This paper will address how the challenges in health human resource policies and planning are worsening the shortage of anaesthesiologists and how recruiting and retaining more anaesthesiologists, facilitating the entry of international medical graduates and recruiting anaesthesia assistants will alleviate this shortage.
Challenges in Future-Planning
Extensive Wait Times for Surgeries
Canada’s health care system assures universality, portability, and accessibility; disappointingly, not all Canadians have access to specialists and facilities. Many patients face long wait times or do not have access to anesthetic and surgical care because the inadequate supply of anaesthesiologists for demand of Canada’s aging population. For instance, a woman experiencing severe pain in her right lower abdomen may endure excessive wait time to receive pain relief and life-saving care. However, surgical or other medical procedures can only be performed if patients have access to an anaesthesiologist. Despite government promises, and the billions of dollars funnelled into the Canadian healthcare system, the average wait time for surgeries in Ontario is approximately 14.3 weeks (Barua, Rovere & Skinner, 2011).
Waste of Tax Dollars
Moreover, hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted...