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Surgical Initiative - Common Questions

How is this plan helping Saskatchewan surgical patients?

The plan is focused on providing "sooner, safer, smarter" surgical care. It is moving us towards a coordinated system of surgical care that is centred on the needs of patients and their families, from the surgical referral right through to the patient's return home. This means Saskatchewan patients and families, no matter where they live, have access to safe, high-quality, timely surgical care, and that patients are treated as partners in maintaining their health. We envision a surgical care system in which all patients have the option of having their surgery within three months, and patients and families feel they were well-informed, involved and respected every step of the way.

What changes will surgical patients notice when they receive care?

The plan covers all aspects of a patient's surgical journey. Many of the projects are geared toward achieving shorter wait times for health services and specialist appointments. Among other changes, patients may notice that they are able to:

  • collaborate with their family doctor to choose a surgeon using the new Specialist Directory website;

  • have the option of choosing the next available surgeon through pooled referrals;

  • visit a multi-disciplinary clinic for a thorough assessment before being referred to an orthopaedic or spine specialist; and

  • choose to have surgery in another community with a specialist who can provide surgery sooner.

Will patients be sent out of province for surgery?

We believe our targets can be met without sending patients out of province. All of the funding committed to the Saskatchewan Surgical Initiative this year is being used to support surgical initiatives within Saskatchewan.

How are third-party/private care deliverers going to fit into our publicly funded health system?

Saskatchewan remains committed to the principles of publicly funded, publicly administered health care. Third party delivery is handled through health region scheduling systems to ensure that all patients are on a single list and there is no opportunity for people on the wait list to "jump the queue". Individuals are not allowed to pay privately for these services.

The Patient First Review clearly showed that people want reduced wait times for surgery. This, among many other measures, will help us achieve that.

Will I have to pay for my surgery if it is done in a private clinic?

No. Private facilities are not allowed to charge patients an additional fee for publicly insured services. Saskatchewan Health covers the cost of surgeries booked through health regions in contracted private clinics, in the same way it currently pays for surgeries provided in hospitals.

Why does Saskatchewan need 'safer' surgical care? Is the care not safe now?

Like other types of medical care, surgery almost always involves a level of risk for the patient. Health and safety risks for surgical patients in Saskatchewan are usually very low. However, those risks can be further reduced by consistently following practices that have been proven to increase patient safety before, during and after surgery.

Through the electronic Surgical Information System, surgical safety checklists in operating rooms, programs to prevent medication errors, and protocols to reduce surgical site infections, Saskatchewan's surgical care system can be among the safest in the world.

How will I, as a patient, be more involved in decisions about my care?

You will be able to access more resources to help you and your family doctor choose your best surgical option. TeleHealth ConsultationThese resources include an online specialist directory that shows wait times by specialist, which procedures they perform, and whether they provide consultations electronically through Telehealth.

We are also developing tools and resources for family physicians to help patients make more informed decisions as to whether or not they should have surgery. A good example is a new online spine assessment and management course that helps physicians treat patients with low back pain, most of whom do not require a specialist referral.

 See left menu for more about the Surgical Initiative.

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