A study conducted by researchers at Ottawa Hospital has discovered that patients with delayed access to operating rooms are more likely to die or require extra recovery time than patients with timely access. The results will come as no surprise to medical and surgical malpractice lawyers, who often respond to clients that have suffered as a result of delayed treatment or diagnosis.

According to the study, which was published July 10 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, patients with serious injuries and life-threatening conditions who experienced surgical delays were nearly 60 per cent more likely to die than patients who received prompt treatment. Delayed-surgery patients also required 1.1 more days in the hospital, which cost an average of about $1,409.

“For the first time, we have strong evidence that the sooner you get to the operating room for an emergency surgery, the better off you are, regardless of your condition before surgery,” Dr. Alan Forster, vice-president of quality, performance, and population health at the Ottawa Hospital and the study’s senior author told the Canadian Press.

Researchers looked at data from more than 15,000 surgical patients at Ottawa Hospital between January 2012 and October 2014. About 20 per cent of those patients experienced some sort of delay.

Delays were caused by a variety of factors. In about 40 per cent of urgent surgery cases, where an operation is required within 24 hours of diagnosis, researchers were able to determine a specific cause of the delay. These ranged from unavailable operating rooms to a lack of available anesthetists or surgical nurses.

Approximately midway through the study, in January 2013, the hospital initiated a new surgery scheduling method which included ‘dedicating OR time specifically for emergency procedures and spreading elective surgeries more evenly throughout the week,’ according to the Canadian Press. The results show reason for optimism among patients, healthcare providers, and surgical malpractice lawyers.

“There was a massive improvement in patients getting to emergency rooms on time with this new model,” said Dr. Forster. “It might seem counterintuitive, but having unused time in expensive operating rooms could save both money and lives.”

If you or a member of your family has suffered an injury as a result of an improper or delayed surgical procedure, consider contacting Neinstein Personal Injury Lawyers’ Medical Malpractice Group today to explore your legal options. Our team of experienced surgical malpractice lawyers can advise you on your right to compensation and give you the freedom to focus on your recovery while we handle the legal heavy lifting.


Photo credit: Jeff Kubina/Flickr

Greg Neinstein