Lisa Priest

Lisa Priest is the manager of community engagement and patient navigation at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. Prior to that, she was a health reporter, columnist and editorial writer at The Globe and Mail. Her work exposing the shortcomings in breast cancer detection and treatment twice won her the Michener Award, Canada's top honour for public-service journalism. She is the author of three books, including Operating in the Dark: The Accountability Crisis in Canada's Health Care System, which called for better information for patients from health care providers. She believes a more engaged patient makes for a better health care system. Send her a question to AskLisa@sunnybrook.ca or follow her on twitter @priestonhealth.


Articles and Opinion Pieces by this author

A second opinion for a life-changing diagnosis

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: My sister was told that she has MSA atypical Parkinson’s at a Toronto hospital. We want to get a second opinion, as she cannot accept her fate.…

Waiting for a nursing home bed while in hospital

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: My Mother has been in hospital for the last five weeks after a sudden deterioration. She is not able to go home and needs 24-hour care. It…

The link between physical symptoms and psychiatric disturbances

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I am looking for a geriatric psychiatrist. I am 77 years old and I have newly surfaced emotional problems. It started with physical symptoms, which were treated…

A patient asks: does my ancestry put me at higher risk of breast cancer?

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I had my mammogram done last year. I also registered for a breast-screening program at a hospital. My aunt, who is my mama’s sister, died from…

When cancer spreads and standard therapy no longer works

My wife has colon cancer that has metastasized to her liver. She has been receiving cancer treatments in Winnipeg since June 2012. I understand from Biocompatibles Inc. that Ontario hospitals may offer Debiri treatments with respect to the liver. I would be grateful if you could let me know if these treatments are available and how I might be able to access them.

Waiting for pathology after a cancer diagnosis

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I have recently been diagnosed with uterine cancer and have been told it is a “high grade.” I was referred to a surgical oncologist two weeks ago.…

Pulmonary embolism and chest pain

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I was diagnosed with an unprovoked saddle pulmonary embolism at the end of January after three months of antibiotics, inhalers, a chest X ray and a CAT…

Failed shoulder surgery and how to get it fixed

My wife had arthroscopic surgery for a rotator cuff injury more than two years ago. Unfortunately, the surgery did not help because my wife is still experiencing severe pain intermittently. She did physiotherapy and lately she did shock wave therapy. Basically, we did everything. We want to get another opinion. Please help us on how to start.

What should I do if my father’s cancer treatment doesn’t work, a patient asks

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: My father has been diagnosed with lymphoma and has begun treatment with one round of chemotherapy so far and several medications. I was wondering if early results…

Three walk-in clinics, no family doctor and one patient with abdominal pain

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: Late one afternoon, my sister, who is in her 30s, started having bad stomach pains. She decided to wait it out a little. But, the pain persisted…

Suspicious skin lesions and melanoma

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I suspect I have acral melanoma on my foot and I want an excision biopsy done. Most family practitioners are unaware of what it is, and they…

Blood clots and blacking out spells: are they related?

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I am a 66-year-old male in good physical condition with great annual check-up results and not on any medication. Yet, 7 months ago, I was hospitalized after…

Which heart valve operations are covered in Canada?

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: Does OHIP cover all of the costs associated with valve replacement surgery? The Answer: The short answer is yes, the Ontario Health Insurance Plan does cover the cost…

Diagnosed with a rare cancer, a patient needs a plan

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: My Godfather was diagnosed with neuroendocrine cancer a couple of weeks ago. He went into hospital with stomach pain and had emergency surgery for a tumor obstructing…

Birth tourism: The pregnant patients most Canadian doctors cannot accept

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I am pregnant and my expected due date is in June. I currently live outside Canada, and would want to go back to Toronto for delivery. I…

Pain control after major surgery: the patient as expert

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: After hip replacement surgery, I was placed on tramadol for pain. It worked moderately well, although in retrospect, I would have probably done better with something…

No need to sell the house when searching for a nursing home

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: My mother is searching for long-term care home for my father and because of the expense involved, she will probably end up selling her house and looking…

The most costly places in Canada for patients to have diabetes

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: What are the best and worst places to have diabetes in Canada, based on the cost of needles and other supplies? The Answer: This question came via twitter…

International patients: what care can’t be bought at the hospital

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I would like to know if Canadian hospitals accept international patients and if so, what is the process? My brother needs a full check up. The Answer: You…

Dangerous drug interactions and how to stop them

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: My mother is on six different medications from different pharmacies under the care of three specialists. How do I avoid a dangerous drug interaction? The Answer: This is…

Radiation treatment after breast cancer: not optional

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I have a friend who has just had a lumpectomy and sentinel lymph node biopsy for a small invasive lobular breast cancer. She has not yet met…

Test results: whose job is it to tell the patient?

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: Is it the family physician’s job to gather test results and explain the outcome of those tests – blood tests, ultrasounds, X-rays and CT scans – and…

Alcohol and diabetes: a potentially dangerous mix

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: How does alcohol consumption affect diabetes? I work with street people who don’t always eat properly. Does it worsen their diabetes? The Answer: Intuitively, you would think that…

Pain control: how to stay on top of it after surgery

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: Before I undergo a knee replacement, I have to see an anesthesiologist. I know the visit is to go over details to put me under during the…

What cancer patients need to know about clinical trials

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I have run out of conventional medical treatments for my cancer, which has metastasized. How do I join a clinical trial? How do I increase my chances…

Why patients need to be vigilant about blood clots

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I take warfarin for atrial fibrillation. Every three weeks, I go to a clinic to get my blood checked and, if needed, my warfarin dose is adjusted.…

Home dialysis and the lengthy wait for a kidney transplant

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: I want to do dialysis at home but am worried. Is it safe? Is it possible? The Answer: This is the kind of question Alireza Zahirieh, head of…

Waiting for surgery when in hospital

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: My father has been on a “wait and see” list for 36 hours, with an IV drip. Once they know surgery isn’t going to happen, why…

Your hospital stay and when it’s time to go home

The Personal Health Navigator is available to all Canadian patients. Questions about your doctor, hospital or how to navigate the health care system can be sent to AskLisa@Sunnybrook.ca The Question: My mother is in hospital. We feel she is not well enough to go home as she cannot get up to go to the bathroom or…