Long surgery wait times in Saskatchewan leave patients in pain
By Clare Clancy The Canadian PressFeatures Clinical Patient Care
A Saskatchewan woman says her son is in excruciating pain as he waits for necessary back surgery that continues to be delayed.
Sheila Somers, 57, says her son is bedridden and unable to find relief from the pain caused by a herniated disc.
The NDP Opposition raised the case in Thursday’s question period as an example of unacceptable surgery wait times.
Somers said her son’s pain is so intense that he can become incoherent and his eyes will roll back in his head.
“It’s scary to watch.”
Anthony Kot, 34, injured his back when he fell from a ladder while he was pruning a tree in June. His pain progressively increased and in December he was told he would need surgery, Somers said. In late February, a specialist told the family that the surgery needed to happen immediately.
But an operation that was scheduled for Monday has been delayed multiple times, said Somers, who added that the hospital has said there isn’t a bed for Kot.
“(I heard) the frustration in the neurosurgeon’s voice. He says, ‘I will do it after hours, but I have to have a bed for him.'”
Health Minister Dustin Duncan said he understands the family’s frustration and the government has made reducing surgical wait times a priority.
“There (are) a lot of different moving parts when it comes to scheduling surgery time,” he said. Some of the factors include personnel, an operating room and a recovery room.
Duncan said more than $230 million has been allocated over the last five years to increase the number of surgeries and to fund patient recovery.
NDP Leader Cam Broten said it’s not good enough.
“The right resources have to be put in place in order to ensure a doctor’s desire and wishes are followed,” he said. “This government is not ensuring that the right beds are there, the right time is there in order to guarantee that emergency surgeries take place.”
Kot’s surgery has been rescheduled for March 11.
“To me it is not acceptable to be waiting nearly two weeks for an emergency surgery,” Broten said.
Somers said every day for Kot is another 24 hours of severe pain.
“He has passed out from the pain.”
She added that he is taking the maximum dosage of recommended pain medication, but risks damaging his liver if he takes too much.
Kot has lost feeling on most of the left side of his body, she said.
Somers, who now lives in Winnipeg but travelled to Regina to help care for Kot, said it’s especially difficult to explain the situation to her two young granddaughters.
“They were so excited about (the surgery),” she said.
“(The wait) is devastating and stressful on all of us. We’ve had to put our lives on hold as well… but that’s nothing compared to what it’s like for Tony.”
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