One in five Ontario ER patients needed a family doctor, not urgent care: auditor

Hospital emergency department

TORONTO - Ontario's acting auditor general says one in five patients who visited the province's emergency departments were only there because they did not have a family doctor.

Nick Stavropoulos has released an annual report that focuses on 12 value-for-money audits.

Four of those audits focused on health care, including an examination of emergency departments, health care in northern Ontario, the state of long-term care homes and Public Health Ontario.

Stavropoulos says Ontario did not have a provincewide strategy to help hospitals prevent temporary emergency department closures.

He has found hospitals continue to struggle with shortages of nurses and doctors and that patients are waiting an average of two hours before a physician assessment and there's a 24-hour wait for an in-patient.

Stavropoulos also says hospitals are becoming more reliant on nursing agencies to fill gaps, which comes at a significantly higher cost.