Diagnostic & Surgery Backlog Reaches New High After Two Years of Disruptions
Monitoring expanded to include stories of how the backlog is impacting patients.
Doctors Manitoba updated its diagnostic and surgical backlog dashboard today with updated estimates that suggest the pandemic backlog has reached nearly 168,000 cases. This is a significant increase of more than 6,300 from last month’s estimate, reflecting the continued disruptive impact of the Omicron wave on hospitals in Manitoba.
“Our latest estimates reflect the continued disruptions to surgery and diagnostic testing that occurred during the Omicron wave,” explained Dr. Kristjan Thompson, President of Doctors Manitoba. “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. New capacity must be added to help those Manitobans who are still left waiting in pain and uncertainty.”
The total estimated pandemic backlog is now 167,887 cases, an increase of 6,302 from last month. This includes:
- 54,820 surgeries (as of January 2022), up 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.
The Surgical and Diagnostic Backlog Dashboard can be accessed at DoctorsManitoba.ca/backlog.
A new feature has been added this month documenting the impact the backlog is having on patients across Manitoba, based on extensive news media reports. “These aren’t just numbers, they’re people. They’re our neighbours, our friends, our family, and our loved ones. The harrowing stories of Manitobans left waiting help us to understand the true impact this enormous backlog is having on patients and their families,” added Dr. Thompson.
Backlog Estimates Set to be Reviewed
For nearly a year, Doctors Manitoba has estimated the backlog that has accumulated during the pandemic by calculating the reduced volume of procedures delivered since the pandemic began in March 2020, compared to pre-pandemic volumes. Over the next several weeks, Doctors Manitoba will be working on a more comprehensive analysis with the aim of offering a more refined estimate of the work required to clear the backlog.
“After two long years of repeated disruptions to surgeries and diagnostic procedures, it’s important to gauge how much capacity is needed to clear the backlog and ensure that Manitobans get the care they need,” explained Dr. Thompson. “While we are confident our estimates have captured the total surgeries and tests missed during the pandemic, a proportion of these missed procedures may no longer be required by the patients who would have, and who should have, received them.”
There could be several reasons that procedures not completed earlier in the pandemic may no longer be required:
- Some tests are used for regular monitoring, so a test missed in the first year of the pandemic may have been caught during the second year.
- Some patients no longer need a test or procedure, perhaps because their condition either improved or deteriorated, because they moved away, or because they died while waiting.
- Alternative and sometimes less ideal tests or treatments were used instead.
Doctors Manitoba will consult with specialty physicians who provide the care included in the backlog estimates to inform the analysis.
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