Score A Big Zero For Canadian Medical

Last modified on April 21st, 2008

Here comes another rant:

As most of you know, back in November I was in the hospital with pneumonia. While there, I picked up a hospital acquired infection known as c. diff. It’s unfortunately rather common these days mainly due to the lack of cleanliness in hospitals (and also due to the abuse of broad-spectrum anti-biotics in hospitals). But without a doubt, it’s a serious infection, and is responsible for many deaths. The superbug the media focuses on is MRSA, but in terms of fatalities, c. diff kills about twice as many people. Just last month it claimed the life of a mother who went to the UBC hospital to deliver twins.

I spent a few months battling it with my family doctor, and eventually he referred me to a specialist at St. Paul’s hospital. I went through a few runs of anti-biotics, and for the most part felt ok again. For the last few weeks though, I’ve been having a lot of upset stomach and some cramps, which reminds me of some of the things I went through before. So my family doctor said to go back and see the specialist again for a follow-up.

I called down today to St. Paul’s and asked if I could get in this week to see someone. Their response? “Sorry, nobody is around for at least a week who knows how to book appointments.” I was like, “are you serious?” So, they want me to call back later next week, and maybe someone will be back who knows how to use a pencil and paper.

Way to go Canadian medical.

19 responses to “Score A Big Zero For Canadian Medical”

  1. Rebecca says:

    Is there a specialist of the same variety at like SMH or RC?

  2. Duane Storey says:

    I doubt it, it’s a special clinic at St. Paul’s for these types of things. Worth looking into though, thanks.

  3. Meh says:

    You can start by blaming some of it on the budget cuts to the H.E.U. and general privatization (including cleaning staff). Bring it up with your local MLA member; our system is going south in more ways than one.

    Sorry to hear about your case, and like you said C. difficile is unfortunately very common. There are tons of cases where people are going into hospitals for treatment of one symptom, and come out worse.

  4. John Biehler says:

    People always talk about the Canadian medical system being so good and often mention Michael Moore’s Sicko (which I liked but it doesn’t tell the whole story).

    The Canadian system works great if you have a simple cold or something but if you require any kind of a specialist, and unless you are actually dying, expect to wait 2-6 months to see someone that can help you…and that is considered a short wait period. Even then, it may require additional visits to other specialists that restarts the wait clock again.

    My wife has been dealing with a stomach/bladder issue since last summer. She has been dealing with trying to see a number of specialists and I can tell you that the system does not work at all. The only way she has seen any significant help is when things got bad enough she had to go to Emergency…and even then because of the nature of the issue she’s dealing with (aka non-life threatening) the average visit still lasts 6-8 hours in the ER before getting treatment. Considering the actual time with the specialist is usually only a few minutes to 1/2 an hour, my wife would like a refund on the months of pain and suffering (among other things like quality of life) she’s had to endure while waiting for her 15 minutes with the specialist.

    Yay Canadian Medical System.

  5. Duane Storey says:

    There’s no accountability either. When I was waiting on surgery, I had some test results ordered. I asked if the girl was going to call me when they were in. She kind of looked at me and said “yah, I can try, but you should call us just in case.” And I was like “are you going to call me, or are you not going to call me?” And once again it was like “I’ll try, but call us just to make sure.”

    It’s like, do your fucking job. I shouldn’t have to babysit the process at every step.

  6. John Biehler says:

    I didn’t even comment on your “there’s nobody here that can book appointments” comment….un-fucking-believable. Shouldn’t that be the first thing someone working in that office/dept of the hospital learn how to do?

    It also irks me the whole “I’ll try to call you but call us just in case we don’t” thing…same goes for cancellation waiting lists – never once have I heard someone getting in early for an appointment because there is a cancellation. I don’t blame the people involved in this one – they are already overloaded and probably relish in the 10-20 minute break between appointments when there is a cancellation.

    Even then though, if you have an appointment at a certain time, show up on time (or early) and then have to wait 1-2 hours in the waiting room to see the doctor/specialist?


  7. Jason says:

    I wonder if a bit of litigation might be just the thing to get the fuckers to pay attention.

  8. Duane Storey says:

    It’s funny you should mention that 🙂 I requested my medical records and contacted a lawyer last week. We’ll see what he says.

  9. Tawcan says:

    That’s pretty ridiculous…just as ridiculous as the emergency at White Rock hospital. I went in there last Thurs hoping to get the doc to take a look at my tailbone to make sure there’s no stress fracture (got dropped from 5 metre while climbing, hit the ground). The nurse told me there was a 6 hour wait and suggested I should just go to a walk-in instead b/c a stress fracture isn’t all that serious.

    Hmmm if I had a stress fracture on my tailbone I would needed to get an X-ray or CT scan. That meant going back to the hospital and wait. The Canadian Health System is awesome!

  10. Rosie says:

    Sucky about not being able to book an appointment, but people who do bookings are specially trained…not sure what they do, but my friend used to book radiology appointments, and it wasn’t as simple as using writing a name in a book.

  11. Duane Storey says:

    Are there two books?

  12. raymi says:

    tell them you are on your way over to lick everything in that hospital to spead c diff around if they don’t book you asap.

  13. Amber says:

    Raymi for the win!

  14. Raul says:

    You know, I am somehow not surprised. Whenever I get a REALLY bad case of an infection or something, I fly back to Mexico. SERIOUSLY. I am not kidding you. Rather use Mexican doctors who actually know what they’re doing and despite how much people complain about insecurity, etc. etc., at least the Mexican medical system is very good.

  15. Ian says:


    There is a whole lot of “the grass is greener” going on in this thread.

    c-diff infection occurs worldwide. It is in no way a Canadian medical system problem. You simply caught it in the Canadian medical system, just as Americans catch it in their hospitals, Brits catch it in the NHS, etc.

    Doctor office waits, emergency room delays, etc occur in every health system.

    The Canadian health care system has serious issues, no doubt about it. Check the W.H.O. though, and look at the world rankings for national health care services. Canada ranks significantly higher than many other modernized countries….and way past the US.

    Bitch about the health care system if you like, but don’t fall in the trap of thinking that it is solely a Canadian problem.

    The grass is rarely greener on the other side.

  16. Duane Storey says:

    The perception is that the Canada health care system is amazing. Our point is that it isn’t everything it’s cracked up to be. I don’t think anyone is suggesting other systems aren’t broken as well. Also, I can guarantee that people who can afford health care in the US get way better health care than the average person gets here. Our system does benefit everyone, but it’s not the best level of service — that’s the compromise.

    And yes, C. Diff can be caught in various parts of the world. So can the plague. But the reason people typically acquire it in hospitals is primarily due to lack of sanitary conditions. In fact, several hospitals in Britain just got lambasted in the press for the correlation between c. diff and hospital cleanliness. In my case, there was a girl across from me that was literally going to the bathroom in her bed, and nurses were attending to her and then to others without even attempting to clean their hands. In a proper medical system (i.e. one that isn’t bursting at the seams) that girl would have been isolated.

  17. Ian says:

    Is there really anyone left who thinks our health care system is amazing?

    Our health care system is decent as compared to many other developed nations, but it is far from amazing. Until the federal government returns to funding their share properly, the provincial governments run the system properly. and people stop abusing the system we are going to continue to have these problems.

  18. Duane Storey says:

    Have you seen Sicko? That’s the perception most people have in other countries about our system.

  19. Ian says:

    I have, but I take anything Michael Moore says with a grain of salt… as anybody should.

    From my travels most people in the larger US cities are aware of the issues our system has. Often they use wait times in an attempt to state how much better their system is than ours (though that is an easy myth to debunk).

    From my travels to Europe I have found in several places they feel their system is superior. I always try to remember two things about this. 1) Their system often IS better than ours! 2) To stereotype, many Europeans I have met feel superior about pretty much everything.

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