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Cancer Treatment Wait Times at The Ottawa Hospital

May 17, 2012 The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) is committed to providing high quality and timely care to cancer patients while reducing its wait times for certain aspects of treatment.

Over the past several months, TOH has increased its overall capacity for radiation machines from 8 to 11. When new equipment is acquired, we anticipate a significant ramp-up time to full operation and plan accordingly. Unfortunately, the ramp-up time has been slower than expected for three main reasons:

  1. TOH has implemented a two site model with three radiation machines located at the QCH (Irving Greenberg Family Cancer Centre) to allow patients to receive their treatments closer to home. This has introduced booking and scheduling challenges for both physicians and patients.
  2. New equipment must be carefully calibrated and staff fully trained to ensure that quality standards are met – A essential step to ensure the safety of the care our patients receive.
  3. The new technology improves the quality of care by reducing normal tissue damage but takes approximately 10 minutes longer per case.

We expect our Radiation Therapy wait times to improve as a result of:

  1. Scheduling – Greater efficiencies due to streamlined electronic booking and scheduling processes – This will increase productivity in the number of patients being treated daily.
  2. Increased capacity – We will increase the number of hours of operation from 8 to 11 hours per day for all our radiation therapy units.
  3. New Technology – Installation of new treatment software will allow our team to increase treatment capacity from three to four patients per hour.

Full implementation of these initiatives over the next few months will allow TOH to treat, up to 36 additional patients each day. These improvements will enable TOH to decrease current wait times to be more aligned with the provincial target. We consistently review patient care requirements on an individual basis to ensure timely treatments for urgent cases.