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Alberta Health Sevices Can’t Meet ER Wait Time Targets: We Wish We Could Change The Target

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AHS Chief and Emergency Department wait times

I read with interest the remarks of Dr. Chris Eagle with respect to the inability of the Alberta government to meet the ER wait time guidelines.

He wishes he could go back in time to reset the benchmarks he can’t achieve.

Canada’s emergency physicians would also like to reset the clock to the mid 1980s before provincial governments slashed hospital beds and before overcrowding became the number one threat to the well-being of our patients.

In 2006 in Ontario, a document was released entitled “Improving Access to Emergency Care” which has served as the template for the Ontario government’s moderately successful approach in improving ER wait times.

It was clearly demonstrated that ER wait times were increasing despite a plateauing of total ER visits. This would seem to negate Dr. Eagle’s concern for the factors of current demographics and population growth.

Dr. Eagle wistfully would like to change the ER wait time benchmarks suggesting that if he can’t meet the target, he’d like to change the target.

This cynical desire to change the benchmark, if fulfilled, would allow Albertans to continue to experience the continued increased rate of complications and death associated with ER crowding.

The benchmarks of four hours for non-urgent problems and eight hours for patients who are sicker and require more time consuming evaluation are internationally recognized and demonstratably achievable.

Albertans deserve more than wishful thinking, they deserve action.

Letter to the Editor
Calgary Herald

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