Articles

  • May 2015

    • 86 year old woman driving her car

      How should doctors decide when a senior driver’s license should be reviewed?

      Doctors are expected to report people who have a medical condition that prevents them from being able to drive safely. But the line between fit and unfit to drive is difficult to define, especially for seniors with multiple cognitive, sensory and/or physical issues. And as […]

    • oral chemo

      Lack of safety standards for home cancer treatment puts patients at risk

      Ten years ago, almost all chemotherapy drugs were delivered intravenously at a hospital. Today, many cancer treatments are taken orally by patients, in their homes. The trend means patients enjoy the comfort of being in their own homes and avoid parking and transportation costs.  It […]

    • Health sport woman wearing smart watch device with touchscreen doing exercises with green tree background, focus on watch, asian

      Wearable technologies – expensive toys or the future of health?

      Ali Edwards is a little obsessed with her Fitbit, a wearable device that tracks her steps, miles and floors. “I’ve been known to walk around the bedroom at night so that I reach my goal,” laughs the Edmonton-based 79-year-old. The Fitbit contains an accelerometer that […]

  • April 2015

    • Email

      Why can’t you email your doctor?

      Email may be the preferred communication method with clients in many industries, but many health care clinics are still relying on phone and fax to connect with patients. Only about 11% of Canadian primary care doctors communicate with their patients through email. In comparison, 35% of […]

    • Doctor with female patient

      Are breast cancer screening programs justified?

      Millions of Canadians happily sign up for breast cancer screening every year. After all, we’re told that it “saves lives” for women aged 50 to 74. Yet, there is no evidence that it does. Most – but not all – studies conclude screening mammography reduces a woman’s chance of dying […]

    • Patient advocate

      The rise of the private patient advocate

      After bouncing around doctors’ offices in an effort to treat her debilitating back pain, Maureen had become discouraged with the lack of progress. She had seen multiple specialists yet nothing seemed to provide relief, and she began to feel disillusioned as she struggled to navigate […]

    • burger

      Do calories on restaurant menus make a difference?

      Would you like 500 calories with that? It’s a question customers could be asking themselves if Ontario’s Bill 45, the Making Healthier Choices Act, becomes law later this year. If passed, Ontario would be the first province to require caloric information to be displayed on […]

    • Autism services

      Ontario families struggle to find services for children with autism

      Linda Cheung, a mother of two children with autism in Toronto, counts herself lucky. When her now-teenage sons were diagnosed with autism, there were virtually no wait lists for some autism services. But her family still struggles at times to access the services they need, […]

  • March 2015

    • hype2

      Hype in science: It’s not just the media’s fault

      Ground-breaking. Life-saving. Revolutionary. Health journalists like André Picard of The Globe and Mail and Julia Belluz of Vox.com often see such words splashed on press releases about new studies in medicine. “When I see those words,” says Belluz, “my little alarm bells go off.” Journalists […]

    • Pay For Your Meds

      Prescription drug coverage: how does Canada compare?

      When Jennifer* was laid off, it wasn’t paying the mortgage she was worried about – it was paying her drug bill. The $24,000-a-year cost of Enbrel, used to treat her rheumatoid arthritis, had been covered by her employer. She remembers sitting in the boardroom being […]

    • Can financial incentives help patients be healthier?

      Can financial incentives help patients be healthier?

      When Egon Jonsson was thinking about how best to support alcohol-addicted pregnant women, he thought of a controversial solution: paying them not to drink. The idea was inspired by studies that have offered shopping vouchers to pregnant women who succeed in giving up cigarettes. But […]

    • visiting hours

      Canadian hospitals begin to open up visiting hours

      Two years ago, Colin’s first son was born at a hospital in a mid-size city in southern Ontario. After a long, difficult labour, his wife and baby were moved to a semi-private room at 5:30am. But Colin was not allowed to join them. “The nurses […]

  • February 2015

    • Poultry Farm And A Veterinary

      Antibiotic resistance in farm animals a growing concern for scientists

      We’ve all heard about the growing threat of “superbugs,” or bacteria that have become resistant to the drugs we currently use to treat them. And we know that our sometimes inappropriate use of antibiotics shoulders much of the blame. The more bacteria are exposed to antibiotics, […]

    • Hospital capital

      Is Ontario’s reliance on donations to fund hospital infrastructure fair and sustainable?

      In 2010, after a regional needs assessment for medical imaging, the Pembroke Regional Hospital was approved by its Local Health Integration Network (LHIN) to purchase a new MRI scanner. This new machine will allow the city and neighbouring region’s residents to be scanned locally, instead of […]

    • Community labs

      Ontario’s private outpatient lab sector needs overhaul, say critics

      Ontario’s system for funding private medical laboratories has been controversial since it was set up almost two decades ago. Now, facing critics who have only gotten louder, the government may be considering reform. In her mandate letter after last year’s election, Premier Kathleen Wynne asked […]

    • Safe surgery checklist

      Safe surgery checklists: the Canadian experience

      Each year there are patients who wake up from surgery to find an operation has been done on the wrong part of their body. These wrong-site surgeries are an example of “never events” – incidents that simply should not happen if all safety measures are taken. […]

  • January 2015

    • staff satisfaction

      Should hospital staff satisfaction survey results be public?

      Patients and their families were treated with “callous indifference.” Water was left out of reach. Soiled bed sheets weren’t changed, sometimes, for months. The abuses that took place between 2005 and 2008 in an England hospital shocked the country. A 139-day public inquiry revealed that […]

    • Medical Team At Work

      Can sports psychology help surgeons score better outcomes?

      Stepping up to the free throw line, Toronto Raptors basketball players may find Dana Sinclair’s advice on their minds: to control their self-talk and lower tension. “The pressure shifts – the skills don’t,” says the sports psychologist, who has worked with the team, along with […]

    • Decision aids

      Decision aids: why hasn’t this proven, patient-centred practice caught on?

      Health care has supposedly entered an era of patient involvement, where important medical decisions are shared between doctors and patients. But many believe that the reality in Canadian health care falls well short of this ideal. Complex medical decisions can prove difficult for patients, who are often […]

    • SEBs

      Regulators grapple with Canada’s first generic biologic drug

      Biologic drugs have revolutionized treatments for diseases from cancer to multiple sclerosis. But because they’re developed out of living organisms, they’re more expensive than conventional drugs, adding to the strain on publicly funded drug plans. Fortunately, a new shift should make them cheaper. Many biologics will soon have their […]

  • December 2014

    • Healthy Debate e-book

      Free e-book: A patient’s guide to navigating Ontario’s health care system

      Ontario’s health care system can feel like a maze. The system has become so complex that even people who work in it every day often struggle to navigate it. So for members of the public – who often encounter the system at a time of […]

    • Medication safety at home

      Improving medication safety for the elderly

      Mimi Roots is worried about her ninety year old mother, Maria. Maria lives alone and has multiple health issues: congestive heart failure, asthma, arthritis, gastrointestinal issues, and a thyroid that was surgically removed. She receives care from five specialists and her family doctor – and […]

    • C

      Complacency about road safety hiding a public health crisis

      “96 vehicles involved in collision after ‘wall of snow’ hits Highway 400” “Highway 17 Crash Leaves Five Men Dead” “Huge multi-vehicle pile-up injures 100 people near Edmonton.” Every winter, we’re snowed under by headlines like these, on stories of car crashes that seem as inevitable […]

  • November 2014

    • Health care spending

      Slowing growth in health care spending: temporary blip or permanent gain?

      For years, health care spending in Canada (both public and private) grew much faster than the economy. Until very recently, this trend was expected to continue, casting doubt on the sustainability of Canada’s health care system. However, recent data from the Canadian Institute for Health […]

    • TRT HD Banner

      Please help us evaluate The Rounds Table

      It has been just over six months since we launched The Rounds Table on Healthy Debate. This week we are posting a user survey to get your feedback. Hareem, our Associate Producer is conducting this evaluation as part of an Independent Study project she is […]

    • Judges Gavel

      Is Canada’s medical malpractice system working?

      Starting next year, doctors’ malpractice insurance in most parts of the country will cost a lot more – more than doubling in many places. Fortunately for physicians, however, that will affect provincial health budgets more than their own practices. Most doctors are covered by the […]

    • drugs

      Drug treatment courts offer an alternative to jail for people with addictions

      It’s not a flashy place. The Toronto Drug Treatment Court, tucked away in a corner of Old City Hall, has plywood sheets on the walls, wires dangling where ceiling tiles should be, and a microphone that only works sporadically. Today is one of the days […]

    • Pharmacy chemist woman in drugstore

      Should pharmacies sell natural health products?

      Suffering from migraines, back pain, acne, diarrhea or constipation? Rexall pharmacies have a product that might help, but it’s not medication or an over-the-counter fix. Rather, it’s an IgG test called Hemocode that looks for 250 food intolerances – and costs $450. The test, which […]

  • October 2014

    • Pan-Canadian Pharmaceutical Alliance

      Canadian provinces take first steps towards lower drug prices

      Prescription drugs provide important benefits to patients, and are an essential component of the health care system. They also have significant costs: Canadians spent roughly $35 billion on drugs in 2013, or about 16% of total health care spending. Drug costs have put significant strain […]

    • cherry picking

      Are family doctors cherry picking patients?

      When Anne Lyddiatt’s family doctor retired, she went looking for a new one.  The Ingersoll, Ontario resident thought she’d found one for herself, her two daughters, and her granddaughter, and they filled out application forms with their health information. But only one of the four […]

    • Temporary Foreign Workers

      Changes to temporary foreign worker program have unintended impacts on doctors

      Reports of low-skilled Canadian workers being replaced with those from other countries spurred changes earlier this year to the Temporary Foreign Worker Program. But they’ve made it harder for areas in need of physicians as well. The system was overhauled this summer after reports that […]

    • hospital

      Controversy over closing rural hospitals

      Hymns, protests, and arrests – that’s what happened when the Fort Erie, Ont. community rallied against a planned conversion of their local hospital’s emergency room to an urgent-care centre. It didn’t work, and in 2009, it seemed their fears were realized when a teenager died after […]

    • Medical legal partnerships

      Widening the circle of care: adding legal and financial expertise to the health care team

      Grace (name and some details changed to protect her identity) is a nine year old girl who lives in the northern suburbs of Toronto. Her doctor diagnosed her with asthma last year, and developed a care plan and prescribed her medication. Grace’s family understands and […]

  • September 2014

    • Home Care

      How should we measure quality in home care?

      Trevor Cranney gets 60 hours of home care a month. Though he’s happy with the quality of care he’s getting, he doesn’t think it’s enough. “I suffer from ALS, and I’m unable to feed myself, brush my hair or do anything,” says the 42-year-old, who was recently […]

    • registries

      What Canada can learn from Sweden’s health registry system

      In 2007, a group of Canadian cardiologists found themselves in a unique position. New – and expensive – implantable cardiac defibrillators were being used by fewer than a dozen doctors. And the Institute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences was offering to help them create a registry that would track […]

    • Lean healthcare whiteboard

      From the factory floor to the emergency department: Hospitals explore Lean method

      Can health care learn from assembly lines? Manitoba’s St. Boniface General Hospital thinks so. It’s been using Lean, a system inspired by Toyota, on processes around the institution. Last year, one of its projects was to reduce wait times for CT scans. Staff ran a Rapid […]

    • doctorcomputer

      How Norway’s innovative library made high-quality health information free for everyone

      If you’re looking for evidence-based health information in Canada, a lot depends on who – and where – you are. A physician in a teaching hospital? No problem. But family doctors in rural areas, nurses or physiotherapists have a much harder time accessing up to date […]

  • August 2014

    • hospital direction sign

      Hospital parking: health care’s controversial cost

      Shalimar Novak is sick of paying for parking. The social worker has been to Toronto’s Mount Sinai once or twice a week recently for appointments related to her pregnancy, and paid about $15 every time. “It definitely adds up,” she says. “And when you have a kid […]

    • Euthanasia

      Physician-assisted death and euthanasia in Canada: should it be legal or banned?

      When Canadians saw the video from Donald Low pleading for physician-assisted death, it sparked a nationwide conversation on the issue. The public had grown used to seeing Mount Sinai Hospital’s microbiologist-in-chief at press conferences, poised and  explaining how Toronto was battling the SARS outbreak. But […]

  • July 2014

    • Gluten sensitivity: bread

      Does non-celiac gluten sensitivity really exist?

      When Linda Kerr’s son’s growth flatlined, a doctor suggested the teen might benefit from a gluten-free diet. In support, she tried the diet with him. Her son eventually decided he wasn’t going to follow it, but it did have an unexpected effect: after about a month, […]

    • Bridgepoint

      The surprising science behind evidence-based hospital design

      Rahel Yetbarek sits with her feet up, looking out onto the city and the large swath of treed land that surrounds the freeway below her. The nurse is taking in the view over her lunch break, from the 10th floor rooftop garden at Bridgepoint, a […]

    • Northern Travel Grant

      Despite Ontario’s Northern Health Travel Grant, some still pay out of pocket

      When Nan Normand’s husband had quintuple bypass surgery, it cost them $1,500. It wasn’t the operation that was pricey, but the travel. The couple went from Kenora, a small city near the Ontario-Manitoba border, to Hamilton for the surgery. The trek included flights and a multiple-night stay. Normand was […]

    • Genetic testing

      Should patients be told about incidental findings from genetic testing?

      Genomics is moving at a lightning pace. Whole genome sequencing, a special type of genetic test, can produce much more information about a person’s genes than ever before. However, this rapid advance in technology has outpaced our ability to understand what to do with all […]

    • Front-of-package labels

      Are food labels more sell than science?

      Probiotic ice cream. Antioxidant 7Up. Cupcakes that are “a good source of iron.” Grocery store shelves are lined with products that claim they’re good for you. Some food labels say they’ll help you dodge health conditions – like oatmeal boxes that say “oat fibre helps reduce cholesterol.” […]

  • June 2014

    • OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

      Should the public know how much doctors are paid?

      The United States began releasing the Medicare payments it made to individual doctors on April 9, a move that sparked sensational headlines and debates about privacy. The data offer insights into the $77 billion paid by Medicare’s fee-for-service program to more than 880,000 health care professionals […]

    • Family doctor

      Family medicine attracts record number of graduates

      Family medicine was a popular choice among medical graduates in the 1980s, when Roger Strasser was training at The University of Western Ontario. “The residents had almost a missionary zeal that they were going to be family doctors,” he says. He shared their passion, becoming […]

    • Boy with childhood obesity

      Treating childhood obesity with family-focused interventions

      Many Canadian children struggle with their weight. The number of kids with childhood obesity has been growing since the 1970s, with measured rates rising from 6% in 1978 to 13% in 2004. In addition, 18% of children are overweight. It’s part of a larger global trend: 23% of children […]

    • Many internationally educated doctors need to do a Canadian residency before being able to practise.

      Changes ahead for international medical graduates hoping to practise in Canada

      About halfway through Anmar Salman’s attempts to become a doctor in Canada, he almost gave up. After studying medicine in his native Iraq and doing a master’s in public health in the U.K., he immigrated to Canada, found a job at the Ontario Ministry of […]

  • May 2014

    • caesarian section

      Pulling back the curtain on Canada’s rising C-section rate

      Caesarian sections (C-sections) are among the most common surgical procedures performed on women of child-bearing age. Canada’s C-section rate has increased dramatically in the past two decades. The national C-section rate  has increased from 17% of all births in 1995 to nearly 27% in  2010. In Ontario, nearly 29% of births […]

    • mandatory school entry vaccine

      Provinces divided over mandatory vaccination for school children

      The past year has seen confirmed outbreaks of measles across in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Ontario. Measles is highly contagious, and can lead to serious complications and death for children under the age of five. It is strongly recommended by the Public Health Agency […]



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