Objectives: Polls show that nearly two thirds of Canadians believe that waiting times prior to surgery have increased in recent years. A study was undertaken in Manitoba to determine whether public perceptions about long and increasing waits were valid.
Research design: Using administrative data, waiting times for 10 types of surgery-ranging from coronary artery bypass surgery and mastectomy to cataract surgery and hernia repairs-were studied over a 5-year period.
Results: Using each patient's preoperative visit to the surgeon as the beginning of the waiting time, median waiting times for most of the procedures studied were found to have, in fact, remained stable or fallen slightly over the period studied.
Conclusions: Further, an examination of waiting times for cataract surgery demonstrated that allowing surgeons to practice in both public and private arenas seems to be counterproductive to providing good public service.