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How to cure wait times in Quebec emergency rooms

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“Quebec brings order to emergency rooms; no patient will stay more than 48 hours.”

This headline from La Presse could have been written last year, as suggested by the spring 2017 ultimatum from Health Minister Gaétan Barrette. It actually appeared on March 11, 1980. So where do things stand today?

Earlier this year, many rejoiced over the news that waiting times had declined. For the 2017-18 fiscal year, the average stay in Quebec emergency rooms overall was 7.3 hours, compared with 7.8 hours the year before, an improvement of half an hour. For patients on stretchers, the most serious cases, the average wait went to 13.7 hours from 15.6, an impressive decline of nearly two hours at first glance.

However, the true picture, as measured by the median stay, is not quite so rosy. This form of measurement is less heavily influenced by extremes at either ends and thus more closely represents what patients actually experience. According to Health Ministry data, the average stay went from 9.5 to........

© Montreal Gazette