patient safety

How far along are we in making hospitals more ‘senior friendly’?

Being hospitalized can have dramatic impacts on seniors’ wellness, and time spent in hospital contributes to loss of important functions such as strength and mobility – critical to their independence and wellbeing. Camilla Wong, a geriatrician at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto says “hospitalization robs us of the things that are really important for older

Too little data for doctors to recommend e-cigarettes

Sachin Pendharkar healthy debate blogger

Read Healthy Debate’s analysis on Regulating the ‘wild west’ of e-cigarettes. As respirologists, we are frequently asked for our opinion on e-cigarettes. At first glance there appears to be some potential positives. While one study suggested that there could be a role for these devices in helping active smokers quit tobacco, a more recent small study

The evidence and politics of mandatory health care worker vaccination

The United States Center for Disease Control reports that while only 44% of employees get the influenza or “flu” shot on a voluntary basis, that number rises to 89% when it is required or mandated by the employer. With vaccination rates of 45% among health care workers in some Alberta hospitals and similar rates in Ontario, a debate has

A paeditrician’s plea to the anti-vaccinationists

The global public health success of vaccination is astounding. According to the World Health Organization, vaccinations save the lives of 2-3 million people worldwide each year and prevent millions of others from suffering and disability. Marvelous achievements from the use of vaccinations continue; just this month India was declared Polio-free . Past and ongoing studies

Vanessa’s Law a laudable first step towards improving patient safety

John Greiss Healthy Debate blogger

On December 6th, Health Canada announced the Protecting Canadians from Unsafe Drugs Act giving powers to the Minister of Health to force companies to recall or stop the sale of any therapeutic drug product or device marketed in Canada. The tabled legislation comes hot on the heels of an investigative report in the Toronto Star outlining Health Canada’s inability to unilaterally

Combating antibiotic resistance in Canada

Michael’s Story Michael was a 75 year-old living in Canada’s Prairies. His wife recently spent five days in hospital for a scheduled hip replacement. At the time she was admitted to hospital, Michael was on a one-week course of Amoxicillin, an antibiotic medication to treat a sinus infection. Michael spent a great deal of time

Is it time for doctors to abandon the white lab coat?

The doctor’s white lab coat has a long-standing tradition. Some medical schools have created the ‘white coat ceremony’ to welcome new students into the profession. I think it’s time we got rid of these coats. I used to wear one.  When I started clinical work I was proud of mine because it made me feel

“Expecting Better” from your doctors during pregnancy

Ishani Ganguli healthydebate blogger

Of all the pregnancy taboos I’ve heard in my 34 weeks of this surreal, at times ache-inducing, but ultimately incredible state, caffeine has caused me the greatest chagrin. Strangers in line at Coffee Central offered helpfully: “You’ll get decaf, of course.” My four-year-old nephew looked at a cup of tea in my hands, his brow

Can quality be assured for diagnostic imaging?


News headlines from across Canada are periodically dominated by scandals and errors in diagnostic imaging. The list grows each year, with errors exposed from coast to coast. The narrative follows the same arc – an error is discovered in an area of diagnostic imaging. A radiologist – generally the physician involved in the interpretation of

Fewer hospital staff on weekends puts some patients at risk

Fewer hospital staff on weekends puts some patients at risk

In the modern economy, many industries, such as aviation, retail and manufacturing, no longer slow down over weekends. Yet hospitals have mostly resisted this trend, even though demand for many forms of health care is no less on weekends than on weekdays. While most hospitals are open every day of the week, many operate with

It’s time for Canada to leverage “big data” for stronger drug safety

Yan Xu healthy debate blogger

“In God we trust; all others [must] bring data.” – W. Edwards Deming Baycol, Vioxx. Avandia. These medications became household names not for their widespread prescription worth billions of dollars in sales, but for their well-publicized safety concerns that have touched the lives of millions of patients and their families. More than 80 new patented medications

New recommendations for Canadian doctors-in-training focus on fatigue

Resident Duty Hours

After finishing medical school, new doctors go through several years of post-graduate, on-the-job training – known as residency – in order to become licensed to practice independently. Historically, residency has involved very long hours spent in hospital, so that residents see a high volume of diverse cases as well as provide patient care. As part

Health Canada and the FDA: two peas from different pods

John Greiss Healthy Debate blogger

Health Canada’s Health Products and Food Branch has a mandate of “minimizing health risk factors to Canadians while maximizing the safety provided by the regulatory system for health products”. The FDA’s mandate is “protecting the public health by assuring that… human and veterinary drugs, and vaccines and other biological products and medical devices intended for

Should Ontario be more proactive in pressure ulcer prevention?

Pressure ulcers (bed sores) can cause severe pain and decrease quality of life. They are common among the very ill, the elderly, and immobile or neurologically compromised patients. In Canada, approximately 1 in 8 patients in acute care hospitals, 1 in 11 nursing home residents, and 1 in 50 home care clients experience pressure ulcers.

Blood clots and blacking out spells: are they related?

Lisa Priest Personal Health Navigator Sunnybrook

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 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