In a recent study researchers called doctors' offices in Toronto while playing the role of a person looking for a family physician. Doctors' offices were 58 per cent more likely to offer an appointment if the caller mentioned that he or she had a high-status job than if he or she mentioned receiving welfare.
What would you think if your doctor handed you a prescription that recommended filing your tax returns or applying for food or income benefit programs instead of the usual medicines for high blood pressure or diabetes? You'd probably say the physician was nuts. Tax refunds? Food? What do they have to do with making you healthier?
I am just one of the millions of people in Canada who has a condition called Trichotillomania, a.k.a. Hair Pulling Disorder. These conditions are also under the umbrella term Body-Focused Repetitive Behaviours. In Canada, there are currently only two doctors who treat these conditions, and they have waiting lists for up to a year or more. This is unacceptable.
Unfortunately, our ability now to test for and find insignificant abnormalities in people often leads to medical interventions that offer little or no benefit but still carry all the potential harms. Harm as a consequence of necessary treatment can be accepted, but exposing healthy people to harm from treatment that they should not have had in the first place is unacceptable.
Mr. Alexander, I turn to you for guidance on what to do the next time this patient comes to my clinic: a gay man who fled his country because it is a crime to be homosexual. This man who was beaten and persecuted by his community and his family. He is not able to work in Canada because he can not acquire a work visa and instead volunteers with local charities.
Tuesday's sentencing of anaesthesiologist George Doodnaught -- to a decade in jail for sexually assaulting 21 women under his care during surgery -- should have been good news. But I read this comment from the presiding judge: "There are no reported Canadian cases in which an anaesthesiologist sexually assaulted sedated patients in an operating room during surgery." This has happened before, and in my home town.
That a considerable number of Canadians traveled and paid to escape the well-known failings of the Canadian health-care system speaks volumes about how well the system is working for them. It leaves open the question of just how many more Canadians might choose medical tourism outside Canada if given the opportunity.
On our first day of table readings for Hard Rock Medical, director Derek Diorio and writer Smith Corindia introduced us cast members to a sprightly, hearty and highly personable woman -- who also happened to be a practising Ontario doctor for 30+ years. Dr. Louise McNaughton-Fillion was also HRM's official medical consultant. And she was pretty cool.
Waiting is a defining characteristic of Canadian health care. Canadians wait, often interminably, for access to health care services. Canada's wait times are among the longest in the developed world. And, contrary to popular belief, Canada's terrible wait times are not the result of insufficient health care spending. In 2009 (the most recent year for which comparable statistics are available), Canada's health care system ranked as the developed world's most expensive universal-access system. The solution to Canada's waiting time woes is sensible health policy reform that would employ private competition in the delivery of universally accessible hospital and surgical services .
Very few would dispute the fact that Canada has a doctor shortage. Patients are forced to resort to emergency rooms and walk-in clinics for their primary care, and with more and more doctors set to retire, the problem will only worsen over the next years. What is often not reported, however, is that there may be light at the end of the tunnel.
Every year, provincial health care systems across Canada dutifully reduce the volume of services they provide in preparation for the summer vacation season. This planned-for reduction has the inevitable effect of lengthening waiting times for Canadians over the summer months (and during Christmas holidays). The added twist this year is the slowdowns might be extended in a bid to reduce expenditures.
Bulk purchasing of pharmaceuticals has attracted significant attention of late as Canada's provinces work to balance access to medicines and their benefits with budgetary realities. Unfortunately for Canadians, insufficient consideration is being given to the tradeoffs and risks associated with bulk purchasing agreements.
Why do so many doctors still think they are invincible to the influence of the pharmaceutical industry? Attractive, well-dressed, charismatic drug reps with pearly smiles and shiny flow charts still wait in waiting rooms. Lectures and conferences still occur where lunch is paid for by the pharmaceutical industry. Canada has banned the use of TV, print and radio advertising of drugs directly to consumers because we recognize that this information should come from unbiased sources. Why then do we allow so much drug promotion to physicians? As a medical community, we have to say no to pharmaceutical influences on our practice.
Many different organizations and health experts have purposed various solutions to solve the western world's obesity epidemic. But the underlying problem to the obesity epidemic is the current population's lack of connectivity to the soil, the environment and the food supply. If we can reconnect our current population with the food supply and the community, we will create a healthier and brighter future for generations to come.
How do we get more doctors to practice in rural communities? This has been a long standing challenge in Canada -- getting physicians to work where we need them -- especially in provinces with large rural populations. Policy makers have created and implemented some promising solutions, but until recently, there has been little evidence on whether or not the solutions are working. Unfortunately, new research indicates that some programs aimed at retaining doctors in rural areas across the country may not be as successful as we'd hoped.
At this time of the year, many parents are visiting their doctor's office with kids in tow, for everything from routine vaccinations to dealing with the sudden influx of colds and fevers. But just going to the doctor's office can make you sick...of thinking of ways to entertain them while you inevitably wait. Make sure you're prepared to keep the kids quiet and occupied.
There is a serious shortage of primary care physicians in the whole country, and it is very difficult if not impossible to find a family physician these days. In the past few years I myself had to see patients who did not, and could not find a primary care physician to follow up on the treatment and advice I gave them. You would think that the leaders in medicine from both sides would strike a joint committee and solve the problem, but it does not seem to have happened. Very briefly, here is a proposed nation-wide plan.