Background: Prolonged surgical wait times are a problem in many health care systems. We used data from two pediatric surgical centers, one Canadian and one American, in order to determine if increased wait times are related to rates of incarceration and adverse outcomes. Methods: Data were collected for children under the age of 2 who presented with an inguinal hernia to either the emergency department or clinic in the two hospitals in 2002 and 2003. Results: Infants in the Canadian center were older at presentation and were more likely to present to the emergency department. Wait time for hernia repair was longer in the Canadian than the American hospital (99 ± 103 vs. 27 ± 53 days, P < 0.001). The incidence of incarceration was higher in the Canadian hospital, and infants in the Canadian center were more likely to have episodes of recurrent incarceration. Emergency department usage was greater in the Canadian hospital both at the time of diagnosis as well as during the waiting period for surgery. Discussion: Prolonged wait time for inguinal hernia repair in infants is associated with a higher rate of incarceration as well as greater usage of emergency department resources. These data are important for those surgeons working in systems with limited resources in which strategies to shorten wait times are necessary.
- Inguinal hernia
- Wait times