Surgery backlog due to COVID-19 could take 84 weeks to clear: study

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A new study suggests it could take more than a year and a half to clear the backlog of surgeries in Ontario hospitals caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Modelling research published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal says the estimated time to clear surgeries postponed due to the pandemic is 84 weeks, with a target of 717 surgeries per week.

The provincial government instructed Ontario hospitals to cancel elective surgeries and other activities deemed not urgent in mid-March to prepare for a possible surge of COVID-19 patients.

That directive was lifted in late May and hospitals gradually resumed performing those surgeries.

 The study says that between March 15 and June 13, Ontario hospitals accrued a backlog of 148,364 procedures.

Its authors say the data will play an important role in health planning moving forward, and the modelling framework can be adapted to other jurisdictions.