“Let us work!”: a Montreal surgeon denounces the lack of operating rooms for his cancer patients

Even though all his patients have cancer, a Montreal surgeon-oncologist denounces the fact that he must now choose which one to operate on first, to the detriment of others, due to a lack of operating rooms.

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“Let us work!” » thunders the Dr Nader Sadeghi, from the department of otorhinolaryngology at the McGill University Health Center (MUHC), who specializes in cancers of the throat, mouth, neck or thyroid gland.

He implores the Quebec government to make more of an effort to retain staff and free up more hospital beds, because his situation is far from unique.

“Sometimes I don’t even have three days a month in the operating room. If I have four days, I’m happy,” laments Dr Nader Sadeghi, who specifies that the situation would be worse today than last year.

Choose the most urgent

What began with the COVID-19 pandemic has become standard practice. Every week, he and his colleagues meet to determine which patient is most urgent and who can still wait another week or month.

” It’s disgusting […] We have to choose which patient, with which cancer, we will operate the following week and the others must wait,” explains the surgeon.


Recently, he had to cancel the surgery of a patient, who had previously undergone chemotherapy treatments, because the operation would have finished after 3:30 p.m. Even if the doctor wanted to stay, there was no staff to assist him.

At another time, an unforeseen emergency made the operating room unavailable. He had to negotiate with other surgeons to find a less urgent case and allow him to treat his patient.

“The sad thing is people don’t even get mad anymore because it happens so often,” he said. A nevertheless frustrating situation over which doctors have no control.

For the benefit of the private sector

The Dr Sadeghi is sad to see nurses and respiratory therapists leaving hospitals in favor of private clinics where the government is subcontracting more and more day surgeries.

According to him, we must strive to retain staff and stop getting stuck in a vicious circle. “It doesn’t work,” he remarks.

He is especially concerned about the impact on the health of patients, who suffer from these delays or repeated cancellations.

“If I can’t even treat my patients who have cancer, I sure can’t even touch the other conditions [tout aussi importantes] “, he emphasizes.

Nader Sadeghi


His hospital is not even one of the worst in the province, with an occupancy rate of more than 80% in the operating rooms. But this number only includes the 10 rooms that the government allows to use and not the 13 available in the megahospital.

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