Failing to meet provincially mandated targets for knee, hip and cataract surgeries has cost the Interior Health Authority $3.4 million.
The money, part of a federal fund administered by the province to try and whittle down waiting lists for the three popular procedures at B.C. hospitals, is the penalty incurred by the health authority for not meeting the target of dealing with 90 per cent of knee and hip surgeries within 26 weeks and 90 per cent of cataract surgeries within 16 weeks.
Across the health authority, 85 per cent of knee surgeries were dealt with in the prescribed time frame last year, while 83 per cent of hip surgeries were done and 77 per cent of cataract surgeries were carried out.
Interior Health chief financial officer Donna Lommer said IHA realized earlier in the year that the targets would not be met and moves were made to make sure the loss of the money would not adversely affect the overall budget.
Some of the moves included delaying implementation of new services and not filling some vacancies.
But she, added, the loss of the financial incentive reinforced IHA’s contention that more must be done in the area of prevention to not only stop the waiting lists from growing but to stop the injuries that require surgery from occurring in the first place.
“We need to do a better job on the prevention side,” she said.
To that end, the IHA has several initiatives underway to address possible causes of falls that can result in knee and hip fractures, such as medication reviews and studying the effects of anti-psychotic drugs which can often result in dizziness and falls.
Lommer said despite a high percentage of seniors living throughout the massive Interior Health Authority region — a demographic that traditionally requires knee, hip and cataract surgeries — the demand for the three procedures here is heavy across the board. In fact, IHA does more knee, hip and cataract procedures per age-standarized population than any other health authority in the province. (Age-standardization is the method used to look at the entire population and iron out the spikes attributed to the needs of one segment, such as seniors.)
While the $3.4 million is a small fraction of the $1.7 billion annual IHA budget, Lommer said it is money the health authority would like to have to use on other programs and services.
And she said, IHA recognizes that for anyone waiting for any type of surgery, not getting it as quickly as possible is a big deal.
She said the growing number of patients requiring knee, hip and cataract surgeries each year here is growing across the region.
The number of patients treated with the three procedures has doubled in recent years, so it is not a volume issue, she said.