Thousands of Canadians died because COVID-19 delayed surgeries, doctors say

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OTTAWA—Canadian doctors say the COVID-19 pandemic took a toll on the health of Canadians, including those who did not contract it, with delayed surgeries and procedures killing thousands and continued to destroy people’s health.

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In a new report prepared by Deloitte for the Canadian Medical Association, researchers said it would cost at least $1.3 billion to end some of the most dangerous backlogs in key health services and return to pre-pandemic service levels by June 2022. .

The report said that in the four-month period last year alone, the number of “excess deaths” in Canada not related to COVID-19 infections stood at more than 4,000 for the August to December 2020 period.


This is about five percent higher than the expected death rate for a typical year and is in line with the even higher mortality rate in international jurisdictions.

This is also in line with the numbers that Statistics Canada reported for the first 18 months of the pandemic, from March 2020 to early July 2021. The agency says there were an estimated 19,501 additional deaths in Canada, or 5.3 percent more deaths. If there were no epidemics to account for changes in population such as aging, it would be expected.

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The CMA report is titled “A Struggling System” and is released to public policy makers and the medical community as a fifth wave, driven by an even more transmissible virus variant called Omicron.

“If this version becomes more significant, or the impact on the system is again similar to delta, or worse, we were already in a position where the system has no background. It’s starting to fail. ,” said CMA President Dr. Katherine Smart.

In an interview, Smart said that throughout the pandemic the system “relied on a temporary Band-Aid kind of solution[and]the kind of hope that things are just going to fix themselves. Instead, we have a system like this.” It’s going downhill. We’re not really hearing a real plan from any level of government on how to fix it.”

Smart said, “One problem is that the system requires more investment. But I think it’s also pretty clear that the system itself is broken in many ways, and it needs to be rebuilt for modern, modern times.” needs to be… happening.”

So far, 29,618 Canadians have died directly from COVID-19. When the pandemic first hit, medical professionals switched to virtual consultations with patients, helping to offset a large toll.

But in-person specialist visits range from those with chronic diseases that fell through in the early months of the pandemic, and are still lagging behind.

Nearly a year into the crisis, as of January this year, visits were still 60 percent below normal for hypertensive heart disease patients, and 87 percent fewer for diabetic patients.

“Mistakes or delays in the management of chronic disease can lead to serious and costly complications, such as heart attack or even death,” the report said.

The report estimates the backlog in Ontario for major cancer screening services: it lists the gaps of 389,347 Pap tests, 307,617 mammograms and 297,299 fecal tests that detect colon cancer that need to be done.

Other services, such as home care assessments by nursing home care providers – which are a form of health screening for senior citizens to determine what their health needs are – increased by 44 percent during the first wave between March and April 2020. declined, and while they rebounded somewhat, it said the majority were still virtual appointments.

The report looked at the backlog for eight procedures: breast cancer surgery, coronary artery bypass graft, CT scan, MRI scan, colectomy, knee replacement, cataract surgery and hip replacement, and found backlogs from 46 to 118 days due to COVID delays Went.

It also comes as another group, the Health Charities Coalition of Canada, also called on lawmakers on Monday to act to fill the health gaps revealed by the pandemic.

“It is impossible to understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on health care delivery and its resulting patients,” the coalition said in a release.

It cited people with diabetic foot problems, who had more severe infections during the pandemic and “an increase in emergencies requiring more amputations, and the amputations they performed were more widespread.”

To date, Health Canada says 1.7 million Canadians have been infected with COVID, and public health doctors on Monday again urged those who have not yet been vaccinated to get their shots. Even as countries now face the decision to broaden booster shots to the general population. ,

Tonda MacCharles is an Ottawa-based reporter who covers federal politics for the Star. Follow him on Twitter: @tondamacc
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