Back to Top Hip and Knee Replacements - The Ottawa Hospital Website scanner for suspicious and malicious URLs


A Closer Look at Wait Times for Hip or Knee Replacement Surgery

What is a wait time?
A wait time is the amount of time you have to wait for your surgery. Your wait is measured from the time your surgeon decides you are a candidate for surgery to the time you have your surgery.

Why does The Ottawa Hospital have wait times for hip or knee replacement surgery?

Wait times happen because:

  • There may be more patients than the hospital can treat at any given time.
  • The population of Eastern Ontario is getting older, leading to higher demand for hip or knee replacements.
  • Patients choose a specific surgeon who may have more patients than he or she can treat at any given time.
  • Patients need a highly specialized type of hip or knee surgery that is only available at The Ottawa Hospital. When there is demand for these highly specialized surgeries, and only one or two surgeons in the region with the skills to perform those procedures, the wait can be longer than usual.

Who goes on a waiting list for hip or knee replacement surgery?
Anyone who needs elective hip or knee replacement surgery is placed on a waiting list, unless it is a life-threatening emergency. Emergency patients are treated as quickly as possible.

How long will you wait if you have a hip or knee replaced at The Ottawa Hospital?
At The Ottawa Hospital, more than half of all patients waiting for a hip replacement get their surgery within the provincial target of six months (182 days).

The same is true for patients waiting for a knee replacement. More than half of these patients can expect to get their surgery within four months. This wait is well within the provincial target of six months (182 days).

As a starting point, all patients waiting for hip or knee replacements are referred to a central booking office, where they are offered the choice of going with the surgeon who has the shortest wait time.

However, a small group of patients choose to wait longer for a specific surgeon rather than go with the first available one. And because The Ottawa Hospital is the only facility in Eastern Ontario that treats the most difficult and complex orthopedic cases, another sub-group of patients wait longer because they require a level of expertise that only one or two surgeons in Eastern Ontario can provide. These surgeons perform highly specialized surgeries that take longer than the average hip or knee replacements. As a result, their wait times tend to be longer than usual.

How long you wait depends on:

  • How difficult or complex your hip or knee replacement is for the surgeon to perform.
  • How many other patients your surgeon has to treat. Some specialists have shorter wait times than others.
  • How the hospital schedules surgeries. This depends on staff, equipment and patient facilities.
  • How many other people in your community need hip or knee replacements at any given time.

Do better surgeons have longer waiting lists?
All surgeons working in the province meet Ontario’s standards of training and ability when:

  • The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario (the body that regulates the practice of medicine in Ontario to protect and serve the public interest) licenses them to practice medicine in Ontario, and
  • A hospital grants them privileges by allowing them to treat patients within that hospital.

Some surgeons may have longer wait times because:

  • They have less operating room time.
  • They may have more complex cases to treat.

If you have a long wait time, what can you do?

  • You can ask to be referred back to the central booking office, which could send you to another surgeon with a shorter waiting list.
  • You can ask to go to another hospital, where you might be treated sooner.
  • You might be able to have a surgery on short notice, if a last-minute opening becomes available.

Your surgeon can talk with you about these options.

If your condition changes while you are waiting for surgery let your doctor know. Your doctor can re-assess your condition and decide if waiting for surgery will affect your health.

Last updated on: November 16th, 2016