MRI Patients in Canadian capital cities are getting the procedure sooner than regional areas

Patients in the Capital district who need an MRI are getting the procedure a lot sooner.  The average wait time is now 45.2 days, almost three times less than the 148.2 days people were waiting last March. The wait time standard for elective MRI procedures is 42 days. Urgent or emergency MRIs are done immediately.

MRI procedures are divided in categories according to the area of the body that is being scanned, and the wait time for each differs slightly. Patients needing full body, angio or neuro elective MRI scans are now waiting 50 working days. The wait time for a muscular/skeletal scan is 56 working days, and a heart MRI scan is 20 working days.

“Capital Health has made significant progress towards improving wait times for elective MRIs,” said Don Ford, president and CEO. “This success is due to the efforts of our staff and a partnership with the IWK Health Centre. Each has helped us improve the service we are able to provide to our patients.”

“Nova Scotians who need these important diagnostic tests are getting them faster because we have made investments in the right places,” said Health Minister, Angus MacIsaac.  “Additional provincial funding and long-term planning over the past couple of years have resulted in better access to services in Halifax and Cape Breton.”

Mr. Ford attributed the significant MRI wait time improvement to a combination of factors:

  • Two additional MRI technician positions were added to the Diagnostic Imaging department in April 2003 to bring the total complement of MRI techs to 8 for the district. However, due a national shortage of MRI techs, Capital Health is still working to recruit a technician for one of these two additional positions.
  • Capital Health partnered with the IWK to take advantage extra capacity on that hospital’s MRI unit. In September 2002, Capital Health began using the IWK MRI unit for 13 hours each week, and a year later we were able to extend our use to 27 hours a week.
  • Capital Health also extended the hours of operation for the MRI units at the VG Hospital and Halifax Infirmary, and expanded service through the weekend.

“Our diagnostic imaging staff have worked very hard to get us to this point, and we face ongoing challenges,” Mr. Ford said, “but the collaboration and commitment that contributed to bringing wait times down will help us keep them down.”

“Faster testing can make a big difference in treatment an illness or injury,” Mr. MacIsaac added. “It’s one of the areas being reviewed by the Provincial Wait Times Monitoring Project committee.  We want to learn more about where we can make the most impact with our limited health dollars.”

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