Canadian Medical System is a failure when it comes to glaucoma surgery

Well, I can no longer say that the Canadian Healthcare system, at least the version we have here in BC, is a success when it comes to caring for glaucoma patients. I sit now almost 12 hours after putting a patient on the within 8 hour emergency surgery list and fear he will be blind before I get to operate. Our own Eye Care Centre is mostly a cataract surgery suite and a retina clinic with miscellaneous others. I was not able to add my emergency case on to today’s glaucoma surgery list, already consisting of patients waiting too long, because it would have meant paying over time to the nurses to keep the room going after 3:30pm.

Blinded with prejudice

My current glaucoma surgery for semi-urgent cases is 8-10 weeks with a benchmark set as 100% of patients within 6 weeks - oops. My colleague’s wait is even longer. More urgent cases are supposed to get in either the same day or by the next day with an agreement to call in Anaesthesia from the main hospital to cover. Alas, we can never get Anaesthesia to come before the nurses have to leave for the day - oops.

I have a patient who showed up at the office this morning having partially extruded a glaucoma device that was implanted some 35 years ago. He now has an open pathway into his ONLY eye, which barely has hand motion vision and his fellow eye is totally without sight. This requires within 8 hours emergency surgery…before scurrying off to the Eye Care Centre operating room for an already full afternoon of 4 glaucoma surgeries, I personally completed all the paperwork to get this patient ready for the main operating room and my office staff was left to complete the fine details. I also had to abandon 5 patients who were booked to see me as this emergency kept me sidetracked to fight for his sight. Alas, there were no beds in the hospital so they were not officially able to start the clock on his within 8 hour emergency until after a bed became available at 5:30pm. 

If we had a real healtcare system, patients who needed urgent care would be able to get it. We don’t have that here. We need more glaucoma surgery resources to handle the load but we live in a system where the government cannot afford to pay for everyone’s healthcare and looks at ways to do less for patients in order to save money. This costs life, limbs, and blinds people. Get me out of here; I want to be able to help my patients.