Out-of-province patients jump jaw surgery line in N.S.
Nova Scotians waiting 2 years for procedure
Nova Scotians who need jaw surgery are facing long wait times, but CBC News has learned some out-of-province patients are being pushed to the front of the line.
In Halifax alone, there's close to 1,000 people on a wait list for oral surgery. According to the Department of Health, they have to wait almost two years to get the procedure.
Doctors in Newfoundland and Labrador, P.E.I. and New Brunswick are sending patients to Nova Scotia for corrective jaw surgery and their home province foots the bill.
When CBC News contacted Dr. Louis Bourget, an oral surgeon in Halifax, for an interview he was advised by his lawyer not to comment.
Sarah Craig needed serious reconstructive surgery on her jaw. The procedure couldn’t be done at home in Newfoundland so her province agreed to pay for Craig to have the surgery done in Nova Scotia.
'When you are entering from another province, you do tend to take a bed away from somebody else. It's a horrible thing, but my province is not equipped to handle surgeries like this.
"They were about $15,000 a joint and I required two. The wait, once I was approved, was very short," she said.
Craig said she was in the operating room in less than six months.
"When you are entering from another province, you do tend to take a bed away from somebody else. It's a horrible thing, but my province is not equipped to handle surgeries like this... I'm not quite sure how my doctor managed to get me where I was. I don't think I was put ahead of anybody or took priority over anybody. I think it was just a case of ill-equipped hospitals in Newfoundland to deal with my case."
Kandise Brown of New Brunswick said she booked her surgery in January and was in by February.
"The only thing I paid for out of my own pocket was my orthodontic treatment. Everything else associated with the actual surgery was billed to Medicare."
Province mum on profit
The Capital District Health Authority said about 30 per cent of people on the wait list are from outside the province and they are not shuffled to the front of the line.
The authority said cancer cases receive priority.
CBC News asked the Nova Scotia Department of Health how much money the province is making from performing jaw surgeries on patients from other provinces, but they haven't responded.