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Data released on hospitalizations

A computer rendering of what the entrance to the new Stanton Territorial Hospital will look like when complete. illustration courtesy of GNWT

While giving birth is the most common reason for hospitalization in the NWT and Canada, the results differ down the list.

A recent report from the Canadian Institute for Health Information shows that NWT’s top causes for hospitalization include substance abuse, mental health and convalescence. NNSL file photo

Instead of heart attacks, pneumonia and heart failure, which are on Canada’s top five list of reasons, the NWT results show substance abuse, mental health and convalescence.

There could be several reasons for these differences, said Nick Gnidziejko, manager of clinical administrative database operations for the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI), which compiled and released the information on hospitalization and surgery causes last week.

"One of those that factors is demographics, so different age distributions in different provinces and territories could be influencing some of the reasons for hospitalization or surgery," said Gnidziejko.

"Also, access and availability of services is another big factor. So, if certain services aren’t available in Northwest Territories, the patients may have to travel outside of the territory to seek care in other provinces."

The Department of Health and Social Services did not respond to a request for comment by press time, though the report came out late last week.

In surgeries, the top reason in the NWT and Canada was the same and was again birth-related: C-section delivery.

After that, gallbladder and appendix removals, as well as hysterectomies, made the NWT’s top five instead of knee and hip replacement, as well as coronary artery angioplasty.
Canada’s list, especially in the items not present on the NWT’s, was dominated by issues that often come up in old age.

"Looking at this pattern of hospitalizations, it’s clear that we have a growing and aging population and the rising rate of chronic conditions is associated with greater need for hospitalization," said Greg Webster, director of acute and ambulatory care information services for CIHI, about the national results.

"This data’s important because it provides governments, hospitals, and health regions with the information they need to plan services and care for patients who need it," he continued.