"Painfully" long wait-times for intestinal surgery in Netherlands

Oil painting of a surgery (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Wellcome Library, London)Oil painting of a surgery (Picture: Wikimedia Commons/Wellcome Library, London)

Gastrointestinal and liver doctors are worried about the ever increasing waiting times for intestinal surgeries. Some patients have to wait up to 12 weeks for a surgery, which can put the patients' health at risk.

This is according to a letter two doctors, Bas Oldenburg and Ad van Bodengraven, wrote to medical journal Medisch Contact on behalf of the Dutch Association of Gastroenterology and Liver Doctors. The doctors did a survey among 48 hospitals and found complaints from both patients and doctors.

The two doctors attribute the problem partly to the minimum number of surgeries hospitals must annually perform for colon cancer. Colon cancer patients are given priority, and other patients have to wait.

Another possible cause is the nation wide screening for colon cancer that started last year. The screening resulted in colon cancer being diagnosed in more patients and hospitals are often unprepared for the additional patients.

The doctors warn that these long waiting times are detrimental to patients' health. It increases the risk of infections and bowel perforations, which complicate surgeries even further.

The letter is also signed by the patient association for intestinal diseases CCUVN. "It often ivolves people for whom surgery remains the only option, who have tried everything else. Their operations are sometimes delayed time and again. Then the situation arises that you have to intervene in haste." the association said to Medisch Contact.