Hallway Medicine: The Current Problem in Health Care System
Yes, there are on-going issues about the Canadian health care system such as drug costs, access to service, long-term care needs, and more. However, there is a major issue that needs to be addressed by the Canadian government. This one main issue in the Canadian health care system is hallway medicine. Hallway medicine is defined “when patients are waiting for a hospital bed in an unconventional or unexpected location. This could be a hallway, or another space within a health facility that was not designed for using the space in this particular way” (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care). This issue is important because it is an issue that needs to be addressed in the health care system because Canadian citizens were promised universality in the health care system. Also, it negatively affects the patients who are waiting too long for beds in hallways or meeting rooms. This means that patients are receiving care in unconventional spaces that do not provide care, rest, and support. While the rates of people visiting the hospital increase, the capacity of hospitals increase which creates overcrowding. This issue developed because provinces like Ontario has limited services of home-care or long-term care and a minimum supply of beds available for patients. Hallway medicine is a current problem in Ontario according to The Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care. In this essay, I will discuss that hallway medicine is a major issue in the Canadian health care system that needs to be addressed. Hallway medicine is contributed by longer wait times for patients in need, patients receiving treatments in unconventional spaces, and difficulty of navigating the health care system. The Canadian government needs to solve this issue to fulfill its promise of universal health care for all Canadian citizens.
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The first point on hallway medicine is contributed by longer wait times in hospitals, especially Ontario. Hospitals in Ontario tend to be overwhelmed due to many patients seeking access to the health care system by seeing doctors or specialists. According to a report, it states, “Crowded hospital emergency departments across Ontario are under pressure to care for an increasing number of patients. Visits to Ontario’s emergency departments increased by 11.3% over the last six years, to 5.9 million in 2017/18 from 5.3 million in 2011/12” (Health Quality Ontario 2018). In the increasing number of patients have visited the hospitals in Ontario are results of longer wait times. Long wait time is the number one reason why hospitals in Ontario are overcrowded. The current situation is not long wait times to see a doctor, it is patients waiting in unconventional spaces waiting for long periods for a hospital bed. The report also states, “People spent an average of nearly 16 hours in the emergency department before being admitted to the hospital in 2017/18 more than 2 hours longer than in 2015/16, and the longest it’s been in six years” (Health Quality Ontario 2018). This proves that people are waiting too long to being admitted to hospitals last year. Since hospitals tend to get overcrowded because the older population are in hospital beds for too long. These statistics proved that patients are waiting too long in emergency rooms instead of being admitted to hospitals. The Canadian government needs a strategic plan to reduce the wait times that can give a breathing room for the health system or reduce the wait times for home-care or long-term care for the older population which takes up a majority of the beds in hospitals. If the government reduces the wait times in hospitals, the increasing rates of overcrowding in emergency departments or rooms will decrease over time. Thus, hallway medicine will no longer be a current problem in Ontario because reduced wait time will help patients seek doctors or specialists. This issue involves patients, the system in hospitals, and caregivers and health care providers. First, this issue involves patients because most patients with chronic or complex conditions need access to care as soon as possible. Second, this issue involves the system in hospitals because it is very hard for others to access and navigate the system. Finally, this issue involves caregivers and health care providers because these workers are pressured, which leads them to mentally and physically stressful and extremely overworked to provide care and health.
The second point on hallway medicine is contributed by too many patients waiting and receiving treatment or care in unconventional spaces. Unconventional spaces such as hallways or meeting room are used by patients, instead of beds. Patients are spending more time waiting in hallways and rooms for hospital beds. Patients should not be treated in such unconventional spaces because these spaces do not provide care, rest and support. Hospital beds are ideal for patients with major conditions because beds provide care, rest and support. The government must fulfill its promise of universality in the health care system. The Canada Health Act (1984) Section 3 states “continued access to quality healthcare without financial or other barriers will be critical to maintaining and improving the health and well-being of Canadians” (Canada Health Act 1984). This means that any Canadian citizen has the right to access the health care system without any barriers. However, in today’s world, it is very difficult to access the system because hospitals are faced with the issue of hallway medicine. Overcrowded emergency rooms or department must be resolved. Patients with serious conditions waiting for a hospital bed, they are more likely to decline than other patients with minor conditions. Hallway health care is not safe to provide treatments to others. Beds in hospitals need to be available at all time, not being used for the older population where they can be placed at home-care or long-term care. On October 3rd, 2018, the Premier’s council was formed and its number one goal was to improve the health care system and tackle hallway medicine. The Premier’s council provided strategic plans, actions, and recommendations for a solution to this current problem in Ontario. The Premier’s council hopes that their plans improve the health of Ontarians, increase the rate of satisfaction of patients, effectively and efficiently use of taxpayer’s money and decrease wait times (Ministry of Health and Ministry of Long-Term Care).
The third and final point on hallway medicine is contributed by the difficulty of navigating the health care system. A lot of people visit the hospitals whether if they have a minor condition or major condition. However, most of the people are not getting proper care because they did not know they are other facets of the health care system like community care. For example, if a person with mental illness comes to the hospital to visit a doctor, they would not get the same care where they can get the right kind of care from a mental health center or community care. Another example, a person who has a common cold does not need to go to the emergency room to see a doctor. The person can go to their local medically center or walk-in clinic. The point is that most people do not need to go to the hospital, only if they have a serious, chronic, and complex conditions which requires seeing a doctor. People that go to the right kind of care is more likely to deal with by specialists than waiting in the emergency room. However, there are limited services of community centers and primary care in Ontario. The lack of services and increased amount of people being admitted to hospitals which causes longer wait times and overcrowding in emergency rooms is a recipe of disaster. The obstacles to its resolutions are increasing rate of patients coming into hospitals and waiting for long periods for a bed, limited supply of beds in hospitals and both patients and hospital workers are extremely stressed.
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Hallway medicine is the current problem in the Canadian health care system, especially here in Ontario. Hallway medicine is when people in an emergency room or department are waiting for a hospital bed in unusual spaces like a hallway or meeting room. This is an issue that needs to be addressed by the Canadian government because it affects the patients who are waiting too long for beds in hallways or meeting rooms. Patients did not get the proper care, rest, and support in these unexpected spaces. These spaces are not meant for use to treat patients who have chronic conditions or complex medical needs. Hallway medicine is contributed by longer wait times for patients in need, patients receiving treatments in unconventional spaces, and difficulty of navigating the health care system. First, longer wait times in hospitals are the reason why hallway medicine exists in today’s society. Patients are waiting too long for hospitals beds due to the older population that take up the hospital beds. Provinces like Ontario does not have enough supply of beds in hospitals. Second, patients are receiving treatments in unexpected places. Patients who have serious conditions need to place on a hospital bed, not a hallway. This is why it is difficult to gain access to the health care system. The difficulty is waiting in spaces where it does not provide anything than negative for the patients. Finally, the difficulty of navigating in the health care system. People who have conditions like mental illness or depression would go to the hospital. This will increase more people visiting the hospitals for the wrong kind of care, where they can go more right kind of care than going to the hospital looking for help. In today’s society, the Doug Ford government promised to end the epidemic of hallway medicine and hallway health care. However, the Doug Ford government planning to make cuts to our public health. The Ford government must realize that cuts will not make any difference in ending hallway medicine. Dr. Raghu Venugopal, a doctor that works in the Greater Toronto Area, says that the funding of public health will lower the request of expensive and short supply of hospitals beds (Toronto Sun). In addition, hallway medicine is an issue that needs to be addressed in the Canadian health care system. The government must fulfill its promise of universal health care for all Canadians. Hallway medicine needs to be resolved because all patients in need have the right to access to health. Everyone has the right to access to health.
- Ministry of Health. (n.d.). Old Foes and New Threats – Ontario’s Readiness for Infectious Diseases – 2012 Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario – Dr. Arlene King, Chief Medical Officer of Health – Ministry Reports – Publications – Public Information – MOHLTC. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/premiers_council/report.aspx.
- Let’s make our health system healthier. (2018). System Performance. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://hqontario.ca/System-Performance/Yearly-Reports/Measuring-Up-2018/hospital-overcrowding.
- Let’s make our health system healthier. (2018). System Performance. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://www.hqontario.ca/System-Performance/Yearly-Reports/Measuring-Up-2018/Wait-Times-for-Care.
- The Canada Health Act [PDF File]. (2002, June). Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://www.cfhifcass.ca/Libraries/Romonow_Commission_ENGLISH/Discussion_Paper_The_Canada_Health_Act.sflb.ashx.
- Ministry of Health. (n.d.). Old Foes and New Threats – Ontario’s Readiness for Infectious Diseases – 2012 Annual Report of the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Ontario to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario – Dr. Arlene King, Chief Medical Officer of Health – Ministry Reports – Publications. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/public/publications/premiers_council/default.aspx.
- ArtusoMore, A., & Artuso, A. (2019, September 4). Ontario public health cuts will worsen hallway medicine: ER docs. Retrieved September 30, 2019, from https://torontosun.com/news/provincial/public-health-cuts-will-worsen-hallway-medicine-er-docs.
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