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MRI Wait Times at The Ottawa Hospital

May 1, 2012 The Ottawa Hospital (TOH) works continuously to improve efficiency and is committed to high quality of care.

Recently, the media raised concerns about the increasing wait times for MRI scans at The Ottawa Hospital, despite the addition of a 4th MRI unit in February 2012.

Over the past few months, we have seen an increase in the volume of requests for scans, as TOH is the preferred referral site for MRIs in the region. We now have 11,000 requests in the queue.

Wait times are increasing despite the fact that TOH runs its units 24 hours a day, 5 days a week and 8 hours on week-ends, and has a very high efficiency rate compared to its peers.

It is important to note that all MRI requests are assessed based on clinical indication and prioritized using the Provincial Wait Time Priority tool. Emergent cases will not have the same wait times as elective cases.

 Priority Provincial Target
At The Ottawa Hospital
90th Percentile (days)
Priority 1 – Emergent 1 0
Priority 2 – Urgent 2 5
Priority 3 – Semi-elective and cancer-specific 14 87
Priority 4 – Elective 28 272
Total 257

* Note: Numbers reflect January to March 2012

To combat wait times, TOH installed a 4th MRI unit in February 2012 at its General campus. This is the second 3 Tesla MRI unit installed in the region and will be fully operational shortly. TOH is also working with referring physicians to ensure appropriate use of MRI scans and where clinically acceptable, alternate medical imaging services are offered to ensure timeliness.

TOH cannot solve the MRI wait time issue alone and looks to our partners in the Champlain LHIN for support. Spearheaded by our LHIN, the implementation of a single queue and triage system will enable the efficient use all 10 MRIs in our region to ensure equitable access for patients.