‘Wait far beyond national norm’: Nova Scotia MRI backlog sees up to a year’s wait list – Halifax

Thousands of people across Nova Scotia are on the waiting list for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and for some their wait could be over a year.

Dr. Ania Kielar, president of the Canadian Association of Radiologists (CAR), says the average Canadian patient waits between 50 and 89 days to be seen for an MRI, much longer than the expected 28 days.

“When you have to wait longer…it can be very bad for you personally, because it can lead to worse consequences for your health,” Kielar said. “You may have to undergo more intense treatment, more invasive surgery and your life expectancy may be shorter. »

Across Nova Scotia, wait times for MRIs can reach over a year in some areas of the province.

In Kentville, 90 percent of waitlisted patients are seen within 457 days.

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This number increases to 425 days for Yarmouth and 354 days for the Halifax area.

Not only does waiting for a diagnosis after an MRI make it harder to get surgeries and therapies, it also impacts the economy.

“When people stay home and can’t work because they’re on leave and don’t have a diagnosis, it’s actually costing our economy a lot of money in terms of GDP,” Kielar said.

According to her, people waiting for a diagnosis at home represent a cost of 4 billion dollars for the economy.

“We are not meeting current CAR standards for the number of MRIs for our population,” said Dr. Carla Pittman, a radiologist at Dartmouth General Hospital (DGH).

“That means people are expecting way beyond the national norm. »

Kielar says the way to solve the problem is to provide modern, up-to-date equipment and a pool of technologists and nurses to keep things running.

DGH is seeking to address the problem with a new community-funded MRI unit – a project doctors have been waiting for nearly eight years.

“The community has told us this is the number one priority,” said Stephen Harding, President and CEO of the DGH Foundation.

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“From our board members, physicians and community members, everyone really wanted to focus and focus on bringing an MRI to Dartmouth General, and we were able to achieve that.”

Having raised funds over the past two and a half years, the MRI unit will be a first in Dartmouth and will feature an orthopedic package.

“We expect to reduce wait times in the central area by approximately 26 percent in the first year, which will have a huge impact on patient care,” Pittman said.

It’s a good start, but Kielar wants to see more modern equipment across the country and 2,000 more MRTs and sonographers (medical radiation technologists) hired over the next three years to meet growing demand.

Currently, the vacancy rate in the field of radiology is 10 percent.

“We just can’t keep up. We can’t catch up on things that have been delayed because of COVID,” Kielar said.

Dartmouth General Hospital plans to open the MRI unit in March 2024.

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