Objective: The relationship between cataract surgery wait times and rates of surgery was investigated to determine whether wait times correlate with rates of surgery.
Design: Cross-sectional study.
Participants: We collected 2 Ontario registries for cataract surgeries: (i) Cancer Care Ontario wait time registry; and (ii) The Ontario Health Insurance Plan billing records.
Methods: Both registries were used to determine whether wait times correlated with rates of surgery, and the data were then stratified by region of the province, priority (severity) of cases, age, and sex.
Results: The total number of surgeries performed between April 2, 2007, and March 31, 2008, was 65,520. The overall mean number of wait days was 69.8 days; the mean patient age was 72.5 years; and the surgery rate was 540.3 per 100,000 members of the population. For high-priority cases (priorities 1 and 2), there was a very weak inverse correlation (p = -0.27 and -0.21) between wait time and surgery rate, whereas the overall correlation between wait time and surgical rate was close to zero in both databases, regardless of the region, the patients' ages, and the patients' genders.
Conclusions: This study demonstrates a very weak correlation between wait times for and rates of cataract surgery, and this should be a concern for policy makers. Further study is needed to see whether this null relationship persists over time and whether it exists for other monitored wait time procedures. Reasons for this null relationship will have to be determined and remedied as the use of wait times becomes a more widespread outcome in Canadian Healthcare.
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