Given the waitlists in Canada, should I go to the U.S. for a diagnosis?

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  • Anne says:

    In regard to specialist wait times, which are unacceptable at this point in time. I was reading about a new business called Consult Loop. Wondering if this could be part of the solving of these long wait times. Thoughts?

  • Mike Fraumeni says:

    Excellent read Paul. One of the problems I believe is that the province of Ontario is in the business of creating their own practice guidelines for example as Cancer Care Ontario, an agency of the government of Ontario, does with cancer guidelines and expanding on this to include other diseases, contracting this out to the Escarpment Cancer Research Institute, Program in Evidence-Based Care, based out of McMaster University. Should the government, as our health care provider in many respects, be in the business of, in effect, producing their own medical guidelines when much of the government’s mandate is to reduce costs for medical care in the province? I think this is a question worth asking as I believe this leads to mistrust on the part of patients that the Province has their best health interests in mind. A real example of this is Positron Emission Tomography (PET) and the guidelines Cancer Care Ontario produces which are, according to some experts, outdated. Dr. David Webster, a nuclear medicine specialist in Ontario, has commented on this extensively, see Pet Scanning Issues Ontario Facebook page below. So it doesn’t surprise me, in the least, with this behaviour on the part of our health care provider, the province of Ontario, that patients will seek care outside of Ontario where this ingrained bias is much less likely to exist and where physicians are not under the control of the Province. —

  • Anita says:

    Asking the family doctor is not good advice because they are not impartial. The family doctor will tell you to go to a Canadian specialist and skip the American clinic. American clinics are so much more advanced than Canadian clinics and the choice between waiting months for a Canadian specialist or immediate care from an American specialist is a no brainer.

    • sam plover says:

      I would dare, yes dare to say that diagnostics are same or similar. There is a much bigger problem in Canada that goes way beyond the wait times. We have a system where doctors rely on charts, so if someone’s belly ache is diagnosed as hysteria, then you’re going to paddle hard to get heard. You will not get the charts ‘following’ you into the US, and most likely will start with honest diagnosis and not convenient opinion. You’re less likely to be labeled as having a ‘somatic’ problem. The diagnosis of convenience that gets you no care, but plenty of stigma. There is also underdiagnosis, which is to minimize a serious condition, and if this is the case, your US doctor has no colleagues to save face with and will be honest about your condition. Bear in mind, once you access US doctors and they give you a proper diagnosis, that too will be frowned upon in Canada. It’s insult to injury. Still, it’s worth every penny to be validated, as invalidation is dehumanizing for patients, and can be traumatic.

  • Anita says:

    Why did my comment not show up?

    • Mike says:

      Mine hasn’t shown up either. Probably just a kink with the site, don’t know.


Paul Taylor


Paul Taylor is a health journalist and former Patient Navigation Advisor at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, where he provided advice and answered questions from patients and their families. Paul will continue to write occasional columns for Healthy Debate.

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