In disturbing news from Canada, as reported by the Vancouver Sun in April 2011, as part of an ongoing court case, an estimated 250 lung cancer patients died awaiting surgery due to prolonged wait times. In this case, the thoracic surgeon, Dr. Ciaran McNamee had previously complained to hospital administrators at Capital Health in Alberta, Canada about the prolonged waiting times patients were experiencing due to insufficient operating room facilities. For his patient advocacy efforts, Dr. McNamee was fired, and slandered as experiencing ‘mental health issues.’ Dr. NcNamee also alleges that other doctors who complained about the problem were also punished or paid off to keep silent about the problem while their patients suffered.
While in this case, the prolonged wait times were caused by insufficient operating room facilities, in the future the problem may be more directly related to the lack of thoracic surgeons themselves.
May 13, 2011
I admire Dr. McNamee for his convictions and patient advocacy in the face of serious repercussions. I wrote to him at Brigham Womens & Childrens Hospital in Boston, where he is now a professor of surgery as part of the thoracic surgery program to extend an invitation to submit a guest post. (He specializes in esophagectomies along with VATS which are two subjects we always like to hear more about here at cirugia de torax.)
October 30, 2011 – the Calgary Herald updated this story among controversy over the original comments by Dr. McNamee and his successor, Dr. Tim Winton.
March 2, 2012 – The Vancouver Sun reports that the Canadian politicians continue to argue over the issue but do very little to address these allegations and the shortage of health care services affecting Alberta residents.