Digestive Health

Wait Time Benchmarks for Digestive Health Care

Procedure Urgent cases* Scheduled cases*
Acute gastrointestinal bleeding Within 24 hours N/A
Esophageal food bolus or foreign body obstruction Within 24 hours N/A
Clinical features of ascending cholangitis Within 24 hours N/A
Severe acute pancreatitis (endoscopic retrograde cholangiopancreatography within 72 h, if indicated) Within 24 hours N/A
Severe decompensated liver disease Within 24 hours N/A
Acute severe hepatitis Within 24 hours N/A
High likelihood of cancer based on imaging or physical examination N/A Within 2 weeks
Painless obstructive acute jaundice N/A Within 2 weeks
Severe and/or rapidly progressive dysphagia or odynophagia N/A Within 2 weeks
Clinical features suggestive of active inflammatory bowel disease N/A Within 2 weeks
Bright red rectal bleeding N/A Within 2 months
Documented iron deficiency anemia N/A Within 2 months
One or more positive fecal occult blood tests N/A Within 2 months
Chronic viral hepatitis N/A Within 2 months
Stable dysphagia (not severe) N/A Within 2 months
Poorly controlled reflux/dyspepsia N/A Within 2 months
Chronic constipation or chronic diarrhea N/A Within 2 months
New onset change in bowel habit N/A Within 2 months
Chronic unexplained abdominal pain N/A Within 2 months
Confirmation of a diagnosis of celiac disease (antibody test) N/A Within 2 months
Chronic gastroesophageal reflux disease for screening endoscopy N/A Within 6 months
Screening colonoscopy N/A Within 6 months
Persistent (more than 6 months) unexplained abnormal liver enzyme tests N/A Within 6 months

* Priority or urgency levels are defined as follows:

  • Urgent = Situation that is unstable and has the potential to deteriorate quickly and result in an emergency admission;
  • Scheduled = Situation involving minimal pain, dysfunction or disability (also called “routine” or “elective”).

Note: Unless specified, time refers to calendar days between decision to treat by specialist and the day treatment is received.


Related Items

Canadian consensus on medically acceptable wait times for digestive health care (2006)

Canadian Association of Gastroenterology Website