Delays in Non-Urgent Procedures: A Burden on Patients, Doctors Say

The agreement between doctors, unions, and the Ministry of Health is awaiting signature. Once signed, the Medical Chamber will urge members to withdraw overtime notices and help cover December hospital services. However, some non-urgent surgeries have already been irreversibly postponed. Although these delays do not threaten life, waiting for a procedure for weeks or months can impact patients’ quality of life. Currently, patients are waiting several months for non-urgent surgeries like hernias and gallbladders.

“Further postponement of procedures is burdensome for patients. They experience a decreased quality of life, have to adhere to long-term dietary regimes with gallbladder diseases, or have to conserve themselves in the case of hernias physically,” explained surgeon and chairman of the coloproctological section of the surgical society Julius Örhalmi.

Waiting can worsen a patient’s condition. “Gallbladder colic can occur, or gallstones can migrate into the bile ducts, which may require further acute care and endoscopic or surgical intervention,” warned Örhalmi.

As a result of the doctors’ protest action, who wanted to adhere to the labor code, some hospitals have limited care and postponed procedures to January or spring months of next year. Hospitals such as the Brno University Hospital had to postpone elective surgical operations of gallbladders, hernias, and varicose veins “in the order of months.” Currently, waiting for these procedures ranges from two to six months.

Orthopedists, however, depend on the availability of anesthesiologists during surgery, and here lies the hitch. Representatives of the medical chamber warned a few days ago that many hospitals face restrictions in the ARO department due to expired overtime. “Postponing the replacement of a load-bearing joint can lead to deepening destruction of the affected joint and increase the difficulty of the planned surgical procedure itself,” warned Martin Repko, head of the Orthopedic Clinic FN Brno.

Persistent pain with each step contributes to the patient’s reduced movement, which can manifest in the worsening function of some organs. Longer delays can then cause the overall health status of the patient to deteriorate so much that they will no longer be able to undergo the procedure. The severity of other diseases that the patient has and the ability to cope with anesthesia during surgery also play a role.