How Canadians are solving the problem with long waiting lists for Doctors
Some Canadian doctors are using lotteries to cut their waiting lists (National Post, August 6, 2008). The patients who draw the short straw will have to find another family doctor — which one Canadian out of eight lacks. This phenomenon illustrates some interesting aspects of the Canadian health care system. . . .
From Tom Blackwell writing in the National Post:
In the latest jarring illustration of the country's doctor shortage, a family physician in Northern Ontario has used a lottery to determine which patients would be ejected from his overloaded practice.
Dr. Ken Runciman says he reluctantly eliminated about 100 patients in two separate draws to avoid having to provide assembly-line service or extend already onerous work hours, and admits the move has divided the community of Powassan.
Yet it was not the first time such methods have been employed to determine medical service. A new family practice in Newfoundland held a lottery last month to pick its caseload from among thousands of applicants. An Edmonton doctor selected names randomly earlier this year to pare 500 people from his heavy caseload. And in Ontario, regulators have heard reports of a number of other physicians also using draws to choose, or remove, patients.
"It was just my way of trying to minimize the bias ... rather than going through the list and saying 'I don't like you, and I don't like you,' " said Dr. Runciman. "It wasn't something that I wanted to do."
The unusual practice seems to be a symptom of the times, said Jill Hefley, spokeswoman for the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. A paucity of medical professionals has left an estimated five million Canadians without a family doctor.