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Healthc Policy. 2009 Feb;4(3):76-86.

Management of MRI wait lists in Canada.

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Associate Professor, Department of Radiology and Diagnostic Imaging, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.


Excessive wait times for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) studies are a major problem in the Canadian healthcare system. To determine how requests for MRI studies are managed, the authors performed a survey of public MRI facilities in Canada. Ninety-six per cent had some method to triage MRI requests. However, only 42% had documented guidelines for prioritization, and none employed quality assurance methods to ensure that guidelines were followed. Target timelines for each prioritization category varied widely. Sixteen per cent of centres were not able to meet their target timelines for any prioritization category, and 45% of centres met target times only for some prioritization categories. Strategies for dealing with wait lists primarily involved attempts to increase capacity. No centres attempted to reduce wait times by decreasing inappropriate requests. There appears to be a need to standardize MRI wait list management given the variation in management practices and wait times observed.


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