Frequently Asked Questions about Wait Times

What is a wait time?

What is a Wait Time?A wait time is how long an individual waits for a diagnostic test, surgery or treatment. It is calculated from the time the procedure is booked in the hospital or clinic until it is done.

When does a wait time start and end?

Historically, the starting point for wait times has varied. All provinces and territories have agreed that the measurement of wait times should start when the physician determines that the patient is medically ready, and the patient consents to treatment, as indicated by the booking of the service. The wait time ends when the patient receives the service.

What is a wait list?

A wait list is a record of patients awaiting treatment. Traditionally, the lists have been maintained by individual physicians and facilities. Patients that require emergency care are not put on a wait list.

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What is the difference between median and average wait time?

What is the Difference Between Median and Average Wait Time?A median wait time is the point in time when half of the patients received their treatment performed. For example, if a median wait time for surgery is four weeks, half of patients have waited less than four weeks and half have waited more than four weeks.

The median wait time reflects what a "typical" patient might have experienced. Unlike the average, the median wait time is not influenced by one or two very unusual cases (long or short wait time), and is therefore a more accurate measure of wait times you might expect as a patient.

The average wait time is occasionally reported on this site. The average wait time is calculated by totaling all individual wait times and then dividing by the number of patients that received the treatment.

How are wait times managed?

How are Wait Times Managed?Wait times are a shared responsibility of health care providers, regional health authorities, Manitoba Health and Seniors Care, and individual Manitobans. Physicians assess patient need, determine urgency of treatment, and place patients accordingly on a wait list or other treatment path. Regional health authorities plan and deliver health services in the regions and communities.

Manitoba Health and Seniors Care listens to the needs of Manitobans and provides funding, policy direction and guidelines to the regional health authorities. Manitobans also have a responsibility to live healthy lifestyles and be actively involved in their health care decisions.

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Who goes on a wait list?

Who Goes on a Wait List?Only those patients who are fit and ready and who have consented to treatment are placed on a wait list. Patients who are not fit and ready for treatment need time in pre-habilitation or may be recommended for other treatment options.

Patients who have not consented to treatment do not go on a wait list. Patients who are determined by their doctor or nurse practitoner to be an emergency are also not put on a list.

Can I get care sooner?

Depending on your situation, you may request a referral to another physician with a shorter wait list or to another hospital or clinic where you can be cared for sooner.

Discuss your options with your doctor and be prepared to go for surgery on short notice or to travel to another centre for treatment. This may reduce your wait time.

If your condition changes while you are waiting, consult your doctor.

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Why are wait times different throughout the province?

Why are Wait Times Different Throughout the Province?Wait times vary from one procedure to another, from one specialist to another, and from one facility to another. Some reasons include:

  • How busy surgeons are in your community
  • Newer surgeons might have shorter waiting lists while they build their practice
  • Some specialists only perform certain procedures or work part-time
  • Some procedures require specialized staff and facilities
How is data accuracy determined?

Wait time information is submitted by facilities and regional health authorities, who are responsible for its accuracy. The province is working with health care partners to develop standards for consistent and accurate reporting.

Can more funding reduce wait times?

Can More Funding Reduce Wait Times?Research shows that more funding alone will not result in shorter waits times. Long-term changes, such as the development of clearly defined standards for treatment, improved information management and more efficient use of existing resources will help ensure patients get appropriate and timely care. Manitoba Health and Seniors Care is working in partnership with regional health authorities, physicians and other health care providers

Do better doctors have longer wait lists?

All physicians are evaluated for training, skills and competence when they are licensed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba.

Some surgeons may have longer wait times because they receive more referrals from family doctors or share operating time in hospitals with a greater demand for operating room resources. Some surgeons may perform fewer procedures in a given period of time, which adds to the wait time of their patients.

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