A report released Thursday by auditor general Doug Wylie found a lack of communication and inflexible funding rules have created broad differences in wait times among Alberta’s health regions for publicly funded outpatient tests. (Contributed photo)

A report released Thursday by auditor general Doug Wylie found a lack of communication and inflexible funding rules have created broad differences in wait times among Alberta’s health regions for publicly funded outpatient tests. (Contributed photo)

Access to medical tests in Red Deer adequate, say doctors

Use of Publicly Funded CT and MRI Services report released by auditor general

Long wait times for MRIs and other diagnostic imaging tests identified in a new report is not as big an issue for Red Deer, according to local doctors.

A report released Thursday from the auditor general Doug Wylie found a lack of communication and inflexible funding rules have created broad differences in wait times among Alberta’s health regions for publicly funded outpatient tests.

Analysis showed that between April 2015 and March 2020, Alberta Health Services Central Zone had a 140 per cent increase in the waitlist for computed tomography (CT). The waitlist was worse in the other zones.

The waitlist for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) across Alberta has not increased as much. Calgary saw the biggest increase at 65 per cent, while the waitlist decreased by 15 per cent for Central Zone.

Orthopedic surgeon Dr. Keith Wolstenholme said access to CTs and MRIs was good.

“The surgeons have a good working relationship with the radiologists and generally we get the advanced imaging in the time frame that we request,” Wolstenholme said.

Family physician Dr. Peter Bouch said recently a patient required an urgent MRI on his neck for his neurosurgeon and it was done the next day.

“If it’s needed it’s done for sure no problem. Some of the ones that they feel are probably not urgent, or not needed, might take a little longer, but there’s no harm in that,” Bouch said.

Regular scans to track a medical issue can also be ordered in advance so they can get done on time, he said.

In the report, Use of Publicly Funded CT and MRI Services, the auditor general also found AHS prioritization guidelines are not applied consistently across the province, and AHS does not have province-wide centralized intake which means one zone cannot take advantage of openings or book exams in other areas.

Wylie said AHS cannot implement some needed improvements unilaterally, and recommended Alberta Health work with AHS and stakeholders to assist both primary care and non-AHS clinicians in ordering exams.

“Notwithstanding our recommendations for improvement, it is important to note that Albertans successfully undergo CT and MRI exams every day, and the findings of our report do not suggest that people receiving these diagnostic services are not receiving quality healthcare as coordinated by physicians and medical professionals,” Wylie said in a statement.

To read the report visit www.oag.ab.ca.

— with files from The Canadian Press

Auditor GeneralHealth

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Red Deer Regional Airport CEO Graham Ingham has ambitious plans for the airport. (Advocate file photo).
Red Deer Regional Airport revenues climb in 2020

Bringing in more business is the 2021 goal, says director

City council will have to wait longer to hear back from administration on possible alternative sites — if the homeless shelter is moved from Red Deer downtown. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff).
Alternative sites for homeless shelter will be explored by the City of Red Deer

Council gave administration more time to return with a report

Quentin Lee Strawberry was found not guilty of second-degree murder in connection with stabbing death of Joseph Gallant in March 2019. (Photo from RCMP)
Updated: O’Chiese man found not guilty of 2019 stabbing death of Red Deer man

Quentin Strawberry found guilty of assaulting murdered man’s common-law partner

(Advocate file photo).
City of Red Deer property tax bills are in the mail

Red Deer 2021 tax notices are on their way. Red Deer property… Continue reading

Vancouver Canucks’ Nils Hoglander (36) scores on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Laurent Brossoit (30) during first-period NHL action in Winnipeg on Monday May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Greenslade
Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Hoglander scores twice as Vancouver Canucks dump slumping Winnipeg Jets 3-1

Edmonton Oilers' Dominik Kahun (21) celebrates with teammate Connor McDavid (97) after scoring the third goal against Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen (34) during second-period NHL hockey action in Montreal, Monday, May 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Canadiens clinch playoff spot with single point, fall to McDavid and Oilers in OT

Rory McIlroy tees off on the fourth hole during the fourth round of the Wells Fargo Championship golf tournament at Quail Hollow on Sunday, May 9, 2021, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)
McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

McIlroy ends 18 months without winning at Quail Hollow

Canada , left to right, lead Briane Meilleur, third Val Sweeting, skip Kerri Einarson, and second Shannon Birchard discuss strategy against Sweden in a qualification game at the Women's World Curling Championship in Calgary, Alta., Saturday, May 8, 2021. Both of Canada's teams were shut out of the medals, marking the first time ever that Canada did not reach the podium at either the men's or women's worlds in the same season. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Bubble Wrap: Fresh questions for Canada after medal shutout at curling worlds

Edmonton Oilers' Connor McDavid (97) celebrates his 100th point this season with Leon Draisaitl (29) against the Vancouver Canucks during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday, May 8, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Oilers plan to keep playing McDavid, Draisaitl as NHL regular season winds down

Oilers plan to keep playing McDavid, Draisaitl as NHL regular season winds down

Canada's Tyler Ardron, right, tries to block the kick by Italy's Callum Braley during the Rugby World Cup Pool B match in Fukuoka, western Japan, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/Kyodo News via AP
Canadian men to face Wales and England in July rugby test matches

Canadian men to face Wales and England in July rugby test matches

John Velazquez, right, rides Medina Spirit ahead of Florent Geroux aboard Mandaloun to win the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, Saturday, May 1, 2021, in Louisville, Ky. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Darron Cummings
Casse believes colleague Baffert deserves “due process” folowing positive test

Casse believes colleague Baffert deserves “due process” folowing positive test

Canada forward Liam Millar (23) moves the ball past Bermuda defender Eusebio Blankendal (2) during the second half of a World Cup 2022 Group B qualifying soccer match Thursday, March 25, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-John Raoux
Canadian men to play next two World Cup qualifying matches in the U.S.

Canadian men to play next two World Cup qualifying matches in the U.S.

Most Read