Reflections

Ally Fleming is a writer and publicist at Anstruther Press

 

Illness doesn’t end when you leave the doctor’s office. Affliction is carried, and pain is, as Shane Neilson writes, “a concerto in your back pocket.” As a writer with bipolar disorder and chronic pain, I’ve often felt utterly lost, blinded by what Rita Charon calls the “glare of sickness” . For many, the fundamental question of medicine is not how to be fixed (for it’s often not possible), but how to live one’s life, broken. Physician and pain researcher Shane Neilson’s trilogy of poetry collections from Porcupine’s Quill leads by example.

“Practitioners, be they health care professionals to begin with or not, must be prepared to offer the self as a therapeutic instrument," (p. 215) writes Charon in Narrative Medicine: Honoring the Stories of Illness. Neilson, with one foot perpetually planted in medical practice and the other in love, unflinchingly offers himself to his readers ...continue reading

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Wendell Block is a family physician at the East End Community Health Centre and the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture

 

In the thirty-odd years I have worked with torture survivors, I have heard countless versions of the following story. When Azad* was a 22- year-old university student in his home country, he participated in a public demonstration, criticizing the government’s financial cuts to social programs important to his minority group. He and many other demonstrators were apprehended and brought to a crowded holding centre. They slept on the floor, had limited access to a dirty toilet, and were given a cup of water with a small amount of non-nutritious food twice a day. Azad was taken for interrogation on three occasions. He was accused of having links to terrorist organizations outside the country, and of spreading seditious ideas (his interrogators had found political leaflets in his backpack). They demanded the names of organizers. While being questioned he was struck repeatedly on his back and thighs with police batons, and on the third occasion they beat the soles of his feet. Afterwards he could not ...continue reading

Trevor Hancock is a professor and senior scholar at the University of Victoria’s school of public health and social policy

 

This is not going to make me popular with my beer-drinking Morris-dancing friends, or with a lot of other people I imagine, but we need to put higher taxes on alcohol and implement other proven policies that make it less accessible and less glamorous. This is the conclusion one must come to on reading the report on Alcohol Harm in Canada just released by the Canadian Institute for Health Information (CIHI) and a 2015 report by Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer (CPHO). ...continue reading

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Sophie Soklaridis is an Independent Scientist and the Interim Director of Research in Education at The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH)  in Toronto, Canada

 

Almost 23 years ago, I wrote a Master’s thesis that emerged from my experience with breastfeeding my son. After writing the cathartic 260-page thesis, I thought I was done with thinking about breastfeeding. Then I read about a woman with postpartum depression who died by suicide, with one of the main explanations she wrote in a note being that she was unable to exclusively breastfeed her baby. I also read Chaput and colleagues’ enlightening article in CMAJ Open on the link between breastfeeding difficulties and postpartum depression. When I recently started talking to new and expecting mothers, I realized that very little seems to have changed in the discourse around breastfeeding and the experience of being a “good” mother since I went through that lonely and painful time in my life. ...continue reading

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Dr. Santanu Chakraborty is Associate Professor in Radiology in The University of Ottawa and Radiology Quality Officer at The Ottawa Hospital.

Patient safety is taking its rightful place in the forefront of modern-day Canadian healthcare system that is committed to provide healthcare of the highest possible quality and value to its citizens. Medical care is not risk-free. Patients do experience complications, unintended outcomes and harm mostly related to risks inherent in healthcare but also at times due to negligence from the patient’s physicians, care team, hospital or the healthcare system as a whole. In most situations, these unfortunate situations provide opportunities for learning from mistakes and improve our healthcare system. Most if not all major accidents in medicine are preceded by a number of near misses and minor errors. ...continue reading

Photo of Kari Visscher

Kari Visscher is an artist.  She’s also a physician. And she’s turning a promising career as a radiologist into a work of art.

The fifth year radiology resident sees art and beauty everywhere - in the scans she reads, in every encounter with patients and colleagues, in day-to-day life of London’s hospitals and the world of health care. In fact, she chose radiology as a specialty because it was a fit with her aesthetics as an artist, her love of anatomy and an affinity for seeing patterns and solving complex medical problems.

Now Kari is raising awareness of the intricacies, scope and importance of her chosen profession through art. In a unique project, she is creating a series of 12 oil paintings on canvass depicting various aspects of radiology and the role of radiologists as part of the health care team.

...continue reading

Bill Jeffery is the Executive Director of the Centre for Health Science and Law (CHSL), and  publisher of Food for Life Report magazine

 

The new Director General (DG) of the World Health Organization (WHO) will soon be elected. If the upcoming election does not effectively hold to account all candidates, especially the successful one, the WHO risks losing its influence as the leading global public health authority.

On May 23, 2017, for the first time in WHO’s history, all 194 Member States of its governing body, the World Health Assembly, will cast a vote for the new WHO DG at its annual meeting in Geneva. (Previously, the DG was selected by the WHO's 34-member Executive Board.)

But, public health challenges are too great to allow the vote to descend into geo-political horse-trading and unchallenged controversy-dodging in an environment where opportunities for public vetting are few.

The WHO DG is head of a global staff of 7,000 and chief global ambassador to national health ministries world-wide. The WHO’s prominence and the need for its leadership in global public health have long been greatest in low- and middle-income countries where national health systems suffer a relative lack of financial resources and specialized technical expertise.  But high-income countries draw on the WHO’s work, ranging from graded distillations of nutrition and alcohol research to annual advice about the best flu vaccine to administer globally.

The three candidates shortlisted for the position of DG have been persistently ambiguous about their stances on important governance issues. ...continue reading

Matt Eagles is soon to graduate from Memorial University's medical school, and is headed to a Neurosurgery Residency program at the University of Calgary; he is a former Major Junior and University hockey player and a founding member of Concussion-U

 

On Monday May 1, 2017, the Pittsburgh Penguins entered their second-round playoff game against the Washington Capitals with a tight 2-0 grip on their best-of-7 playoff series. An important reason for this was the play of their star captain: Sidney Crosby.

Through 2 games in the series, Crosby had scored 2 goals and added 2 assists. He was, as he had been for much of the preceding year, playing at a level higher than anyone else in the sport of hockey. However, in the first period of game three, the fortunes of the Pengiuns and their superstar appeared to change when he was cross-checked in the face by the Washington Capitals’ Matt Niskanen.

Crosby lay on the ice for several minutes, and was eventually helped up by his teammates before skating off the ice under his own power. ...continue reading

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Ijaz Rauf is President at Eminent Tech Corporation and an Adjunct Professor of Physics, School of Graduate Studies at York University

 

Growing evidence of problems in the level of quality and safety of care across healthcare organizations, along with public awareness, has made the quality of health care the talk of town. This has drawn significant government and regulatory attention to healthcare systems across the country. Health Quality Ontario (HQO) was established with the mandate to monitor and report on healthcare performance in Ontario and the mission to bring about meaningful improvement in health care. Besides reporting on the key performance indicators, HQO holds quality rounds to share knowledge and best practices. Recently, I attended one of HQO’s quality rounds,  and I left with the impression that quality in health care is not considering the right measures, using the right experts or measuring the right data. ...continue reading

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Praveen Ganty is a Consultant in Pain Medicine & Anesthesia in Toronto

 

There is a new fashion in the world of Medicine, and in the world of primary care in particular. It is the reluctance to continue prescribing, or to prescribe, opioids. There are two sides to the situation. As medical professionals, we have realized the potential harm that opioids can cause to potentially any patient, especially if prescribed for chronic non-cancer pain. However, many of us have also decided to stop prescribing opioids to patients who have been on them for many years, which raises some concerns.  The first principle in the practice of Medicine is Primum non nocere-first do no harm - (modified to ‘first do no further harm’ by some authors).

Managing chronic pain is not easy and - let’s face it - most of us don’t have enough training in this area. A 2011 survey revealed that only an average of 19.5 hours are devoted to the management of pain in an average medical school curriculum. ...continue reading