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One in 10 Quebec patients left an ER without having been treated last year

Montreal, June 20, 2024 – The number of patients leaving Quebec emergency rooms without being treated is rising, shows a study published this morning by the Montreal Economic Institute.

“These discouraged patients who leave ERs without having been treated are not leaving because they feel better, but rather because the system can’t give them access to care,” explains Emmanuelle B. Faubert, economist at the MEI and author of the study. “These Quebecers continue to suffer because of the government’s failure to carry out the healthcare mission it has taken on.”

In 2018-2019, a total of 378,438 Quebec patients left an ER without having been treated. That same year, there were 3,710,481 emergency room visits in the province.

Last year, 376,460 Quebec patients left an ER without having been treated in the first 11 months of the year. There were 3,265,349 ER visits in Quebec over the same period.

The study also notes the increased severity of health problems for those leaving an ER without having been treated.

In 2018-2019, 82,946 patients with cases identified as P1, P2, or P3, namely the most urgent cases, left the province’s ERs without having been treated.

Last year, the corresponding figure was 103,715, representing an increase of 25 per cent over five years.

“Quebecers’ difficulties accessing the healthcare system are bad for their health,” explains Ms. Faubert. “This is a problem that could be resolved if we would let more health professionals lend a hand, and if we set aside our obsession with our monopolistic system.”

The researcher’s recommendations for the government include:

  • Increased use of specialized nurse practitioner clinics;
  • Faster implementation of activity-based funding;
  • A review of the independent mini-hospitals model in order to offer a wider range of services to a larger group of Quebecers.

The MEI study is available here.

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The MEI is an independent public policy think tank with offices in Montreal and Calgary. Through its publications, media appearances, and advisory services to policymakers, the MEI stimulates public policy debate and reforms based on sound economics and entrepreneurship.

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