Public Coverage of Diagnostic Ultrasound Examinations : For the FMSQ, the Solution Should Start in Hospitals

Montreal, July 6, 2016 – The Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec (FMSQ) wishes to make public its reactions to the announcement by the Minister of Health and Social Services to now cover ultrasound examinations performed in private clinics.

"I would like to remind you that, in the context of negotiations resulting from the adoption of Bill 20, the Federation had already committed itself to using up to a maximum of $30M, taken directly from its overall budget, in order to improve the offer of services in diagnostic ultrasonography. We do not disagree with the fact of covering this service, but we are extremely disappointed to note that the Minister, once again, stubbornly refuses the proposal put forth by the Association des radiologistes du Québec (ARQ), who wanted to start by optimizing those resources that are available in hospitals," indicated the President of the FMSQ, Dr Diane Francœur.

 

A Few Facts

According to data for 2013-2014, it is estimated that a total of 1.3 million ultrasound examinations were performed in hospital centres in Quebec. There were 111,500 examinations pending, representing some 8.6% of the total volume, with an average waiting time of approximately 15 weeks. It has to be specified however that access to such examinations is a greater problem in four regions : Laval, Lanaudière, Laurentides and Montérégie, with a waiting time that can vary between 17 weeks (Laval and Laurentides) and 34 weeks (Lanaudière and Montérégie).

 

The Proposed Solution

The ARQ completed a comprehensive study in order to document the problem. This study demonstrated that it is possible to perform some 159,000 additional examinations by having recourse to extended hours of use in hospital centres, as is currently done for PET scans and MRIs... more than enough to cover examinations that are on waiting lists. The presence of a radiologist would also consolidate healthcare teams while improving the speed of diagnoses performed in those emergency rooms that have high volumes at night. This would have been a win-win solution, as much for the healthcare staff as for patients.

"We have always been in a problem-solving mode, and this from day one. This is not the case with the Minister : no consultations, no exchanges of views and absolute refusal to hear proposals. There was a single meeting held in January to discuss the subject and, since then, zero. Radio silence. Today, the Minister decrees, imposes, and chooses to make his announcement in a region where there is no waiting. Upon checking with hospital centres today, non-urgent appointments are given within four weeks. Do we really need to increase the offer of services in private offices ?" concludes Dr Francœur.

The Fédération des médecins spécialistes du Québec represents more than 10,000 medical specialists certified in one of 59 recognized medical specialties.