Medicine

Learn to Be Savvy and Detect Bogus Health News

University of Toronto News | Posted 04.27.2015 | Canada Living
University of Toronto News

Today it seems that we're bombarded with news about some great new medical hope or fear of the moment, and I worry that we are all suffering from health-information overload. Fortunately, there are a few simple steps we can take when reading medical news that will help us to put it all in perspective.

How a B. C. Court Case May Threaten Canadian Healthcare

Colleen M. Flood | Posted 04.24.2015 | Canada Politics
Colleen M. Flood

A case emerged in response to an audit of Cambie Surgeries, a private for-profit corporation by the B.C. Medical Services Commission. The audit found from a sample of Cambie's billing that it (and another private clinic) had charged patients hundreds of thousands of dollars more for health services covered by medicare than is permitted by law. Dr. Day and Cambie Surgeries claim that the law preventing a doctor charging patients more is unconstitutional.

Universal Canadian Drug Coverage Is Good for Business

Steve Morgan | Posted 04.23.2015 | Canada Business
Steve Morgan

Businesses care about the health and well-being of the Canadian workforce. Employees that can afford the medicines as and when prescribed will be healthier, happier, and more productive. In this election year, it is time for Canada's business leaders to call for universal, public pharmacare.

There's No Good Reason Canada Shouldn't Have a National Drug Plan

Livio Di Matteo | Posted 04.14.2015 | Canada Politics
Livio Di Matteo

A new study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal with health economist Steve Morgan as lead author argues a national universal care drug program would not result in substantial tax increases. It seems the time is ripe to finally complete our universal system of public healthcare coverage by adding a national public drug plan. If anything, these cautions should serve as guideposts to make sure a new national drug plan is not only effective but also designed in a fiscally sustainable manner.

Yesteryear's Remedies May Be Tomorrow's Cures

Jason Tetro | Posted 04.06.2015 | Canada
Jason Tetro

Last week, much ado was made about a fascinating story coming out of the United Kingdom. A thousand year old remedy for a common eye problem -- styes -- was tested in the lab against the pathogen, Methicillin Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA). The concoction was not only effective at killing the bacterium but also outperformed a common antibiotic, vancomycin.

Ambulance Fees Are Obstacles on the Road to Care

Dr Ryan Meili | Posted 04.01.2015 | Canada Politics
Dr Ryan Meili

Experiencing a medical emergency is an incredibly stressful experience for patients and their families. This stress should not be compounded by worries about getting an ambulance bill they can't afford. As physicians, we know the importance of the first few minutes of an emergency situation, and the crucial role of Emergency Medical Services (EMS) in saving lives. And yet ambulance fees remain a significant barrier to people receiving necessary care across Canada.

It's Time to Put Healthcare on the Federal Election Agenda

Robert McMurtry | Posted 03.25.2015 | Canada Politics
Robert McMurtry

A federal election could be called any time in the next few months, judging by the media coverage and the ramping up of political activity. Many issues have been crowding into the media headlines in anticipation of the election -- but with a notable absence of any consideration of healthcare by our political parties. Apparently the subject is still on the minds of the electorate though, at least amongst my own circle of friends, colleagues and neighbours, many of whom note the leading edge of our baby-boomers have now turned 65.

The Unadvertised Health Risks of E-Cigarettes

Dr. Brett Belchetz | Posted 03.06.2015 | Canada Living
Dr. Brett Belchetz

So when no evidence exists to show that e-cigarettes are safe for long-term use by humans, when laboratory studies demonstrate worrisome potential physiological risks, and when strong evidence is mounting that e-cigarettes are leading our youth to consider smoking tobacco cigarettes, I would contend that caution here is the only reasonable approach.

It's Okay to Fail in Healthcare As Long As We Learn From Our Mistakes

Danielle Martin | Posted 03.05.2015 | Canada Living
Danielle Martin

In a public healthcare system, too often system failures end up as fodder for Question Period battles rather than impetus for learning. When investments have been made in new models of health service funding and delivery that don't work out, it can be difficult to proclaim failure as a means to move toward success.

Why I Don't Like The Term 'Mental Illness'

Roger Covin, Ph.D | Posted 04.21.2015 | Canada Living
Roger Covin, Ph.D

I have to admit something embarrassing. I am a registered psychologist working in private practice, and I don't know what the term mental illness means. Well, on a general level I know that it refers to psychological problems, but I don't know exactly what is meant by the "illness" part.

This Kind of Care Could Reduce Wait Times in Canadian Hospitals

Robert McMurtry | Posted 04.14.2015 | Canada Politics
Robert McMurtry

The continuum of patient-centred care could include a consistency of health care professionals familiar with a patient's case and who are buttressed by the flow of relevant patient history and investigations. Patient centredness by the professional care-giver would target care, communication and common ground or a shared understanding between those receiving the care and those providing it.

Why Do Canadian Employers Waste $5 billion a Year on Inefficient Drug Coverage?

Alan Cassels | Posted 04.08.2015 | Canada Politics
Alan Cassels

Employers want their drug plans to be as competitive as those offered by other employers. So what happens when the norm is to cover all new drugs at any cost, even if the drugs do not provide additional therapeutic value? Well, the end result is that everyone buys "generous" plans instead of increasing employee compensation. Everyone we spoke with agrees about the need to educate employees and employers alike. And in fact, everyone agrees (even insurers) that exorbitant drug costs are a big issue for Canadians.

As Vaccine Prices Soar, Big Pharma Profits

Stephen Cornish | Posted 04.06.2015 | Canada Impact
Stephen Cornish

Last week in Berlin more than 15 countries pledged over US$7.5 billion to buy vaccines for the children of the world's poorest countries for the next five years. While this is great news for the millions of children living in the 73 countries supported by Gavi, there were other big winners: the pharmaceutical companies that benefit from the soaring vaccine prices they charge for vaccines worldwide.

How Health Canada Failed to Uphold Its Own Pharmaceutical Ad Standards

Barbara Mintzes | Posted 03.28.2015 | Canada Politics
Barbara Mintzes

Although advertising of prescription medicines to the public is generally banned in Canada on public health grounds, shifts in administrative policy have allowed two types of ads since late 2000: "reminder" ads that mention a brand name, but make no health claims; and "help-seeking" ads that mention a condition, but do not state a brand or company name. We have identified six main weaknesses in how Health Canada regulates this advertising.

Should Doctors Charge a "No Show" Fee?

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre | Posted 03.08.2015 | Canada Living
Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

Many doctors who work in group practices are now paid a flat fee, per patient, per year. It essentially means the physician gets the same amount regardless of whether you have just one appointment or 10 appointments a year. So a doctor paid on that basis doesn't really lose money if a patient misses an appointment. However, protecting the doctor's income is not the sole motivation for imposing a "no-show" fee.

Ontario Doesn't Need An Income-Based Drug Benefit Program for Seniors

Steve Morgan | Posted 02.09.2015 | Canada Politics
Steve Morgan

Rather than placing a tax on health needs -- as income-based drug plans do -- Ontario should consider a more positive road to universal pharmacare. Specifically, it should consider tax financing a universal drug benefit program that would give non-seniors the same coverage elderly residents enjoy today.

Cynicism, Paranoia and Stress Can Dramatically Impact Your Health

Romeo Vitelli | Posted 02.07.2015 | Canada Living
Romeo Vitelli

When the researchers looked at how Type A behaviour was linked to cardiovascular disease however, the results were very different. Stress, neuroticism, cynicism, and paranoia were all significant predictors of cardiovascular disease although being ambitious and hard-driven were not.

An "Archaea" Solution To The Post-Antibiotic Era

Jason Tetro | Posted 01.30.2015 | Canada Living
Jason Tetro

2012-05-28-GermGuyBanner.jpgFor those studying this unique branch of terrestrial life, the identification of resistance genes in the environment suggested there had to be antimicrobials out there. If this was the case, the Archaea were going to play a role. The only question they couldn't answer was the nature of this role. This past week, a team of researchers from Vanderbilt University may have provided the answer: Horizontal Gene Transfer (HGT).

Why It's So Important to Clean Out Your Medicine Cabinet

Victor Wong | Posted 01.16.2015 | Canada Living
Victor Wong

Research shows that more than half of all Canadian households do not regularly check the expiry dates of medications, and if they do, they only do it right before taking the product. Given it's now cold and flu season, it's the perfect time to clean out your medicine cabinet. To make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked and ready at all times, follow these simple steps.

A Doctor's Take on Alternative Medicine

University of Toronto News | Posted 12.29.2014 | Canada Living
University of Toronto News

Dr. Mel Borins wants to you to be healthy and he wants you equipped with more than just your family doctor's orders. A family physician and associate professor of medicine at the University of Toronto, Borins is a leading expert in health and wellness who has advocated evidence-based, alternative medicine for decades.

Is Canada Ready for Assisted Suicide?

Harvey Max Chochinov | Posted 12.24.2014 | Canada Politics
Harvey Max Chochinov

This past week, the Supreme Court of Canada has been hearing an appeal by the BC Civil Liberties Association that could grant terminally ill Canadians the right to assisted suicide. The Court faces a daunting task. Palliative care cannot eliminate every facet of end-of life suffering. Preserving dignity for patients at the end of life requires a steadfast commitment to non-abandonment, meticulous management of suffering and a tone of care marked by kindness. In response to this dignity conserving approach, the former head of the Hemlock Society conceded that "if most individuals with a terminal illness were treated this way, the incentive to end their lives would be greatly reduced."

4 Reasons This ER Physician Is Dead Scared of Our Ebola Response

Dr. Brett Belchetz | Posted 12.13.2014 | Canada Living
Dr. Brett Belchetz

Statistically, when it comes to more Ebola cases arriving in North America, the question is not if, but when. While I still believe there is no cause for a general panic over Ebola, I feel that the approach being taken at present by our public health authorities is overconfident, dogmatic, and inflexible, with an unwillingness to consider that current containment measures may not be adequate. As a front line health care worker, I feel that my own safety is already at risk.

Why You Need To Get a Flu Shot ASAP

University of Toronto News | Posted 12.07.2014 | Canada Living
University of Toronto News

Very soon, people of all ages across Canada will roll up their sleeves for their flu shots. The vaccine is already available in many doctors' offices...

Viruses of Bacteria May Help Win The War Against Cholera

Jason Tetro | Posted 11.07.2014 | Canada Living
Jason Tetro

2012-05-28-GermGuyBanner.jpgAntibiotics were the first and still are the go-to means of microbial distraction. However, in light of the continuing rise of antibiotic resistance, their usefulness is limited and we need to explore other options. One such ally is a living organism known to have just as much of a hatred for infectious bacteria: the bacteriophage.

Without Big Pharma, Many Useful Drugs Wouldn't Exist

Yanick Labrie | Posted 11.05.2014 | Canada Business
Yanick Labrie

Although some people like to paint the pharmaceutical industry as a villain, a substantial proportion of very useful drugs would simply not have seen the light of day if not for its contribution.