Medical Dispatches

1 Comment

Reza Mirza is a second year Internal Medicine resident at McMaster University

Justin Hall is a third year Emergency Medicine Resident at the University of Toronto.

Odion Kalaci is a PGY-3 in Pediatrics at the University of British Columbia

(All authors are members of the Practice Committee of the Resident Doctors of Canada - RDoC)


In Canada, 38 percent of recently graduated specialists are unemployed or underemployed with a further 31 percent having delayed entering the job market altogether according to a Royal College report. Thus, many of us will struggle. As residents and members of Resident Doctors of Canada (RDoC), this report is alarming as it reinforces existing job-security anxieties. And yet Canadian patients face the longest wait times among high income countries. Consider: 29 percent of patients had to wait four or more hours for an emergency room visit, compared to one to four percent in Germany and France according to a Commonwealth Fund report.

Specifically, the report reveals that 16 percent of specialist physicians were unable to secure employment three months from certification. This excludes 22 percent of new physician graduates who piece together an income by combining locum and part-time positions (they wryly self-identify as “locum-ologists”) ...continue reading

1 Comment

Tanishq Suryavanshi is a medical student at McMaster University

Blair Bigham is an emergency medicine resident at McMaster University and a freelance journalist


Bandar Baw is an assistant professor, emergency physician and toxicologist at McMaster University



The early part of 2018 has seen the rise of the “Tide Pod Challenge”, in which people have posted viral videos of themselves attempting to eat laundry detergent pods from a variety of brands. The number of poison control calls for laundry detergent pod poisoning in the first 15 days of 2018 already equalled all calls in 2017, thanks to internet viral videos. These ingestions pose a significant concern for the healthcare system, as care spans a variety of disciplines and is a presentation that many may not be familiar with. ...continue reading

Dr. Carol Ann Courneya is an Associate Dean of Student Affairs at the University of British Columbia

SHATTERED by Sonam Maghera, Student, U of Ottawa Medicine

For the past eight years, the Canadian Conference in Medical Education (CCME) has acted as host to a fabulous medical trainee and practitioner art exhibit.  Called White Coat Warm heArt, it celebrates coast to coast Canadian medical creativity.

CCME participants routinely visit the exhibit, seen by many as a sanctuary for reflection in an otherwise busy conference setting. There are benefits for the trainees and practitioners in making the art ...continue reading

Nicole Le Saux is Associate Professor in the Division of Infectious Diseases at the University of Ottawa *


As physicians we should be concerned about the inappropriate use of antibiotics. Have you ever had a patient with an extended spectrum beta-lactamase (ESBL), E. coli or Klebsiella urinary tract infection, a Clostridium difficile infection (CDI) or a drug-resistant N. gonorrhoeae?

Whereas resistant bacteria and CDI were rare a decade ago, these clinical situations are now commonplace in hospitals, long term care facilities and emergency departments. According to the Canadian Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance System Report 2016 the rate of CDI in hospitalized patients is 3.4 cases per 1000 patient admissions (approximately one in every 300 patients admitted). As of 2014, 18.2% of isolates of Neisseria gonorrhoeae were resistant to penicillin with worrisome decreased susceptibility to cefixime, ceftriaxone and azithromycin. ...continue reading


Barbara Zelek is Associate Professor and Co-Chair for the Section of Family Medicine at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine


Marathon, a rural community on the North shore of Lake Superior, made CMAJ headlines in 1997 because it boasted a stable workforce of seven physicians for the first time in over a decade. 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of that CMAJ article and of the arrival of Dr. Sarah Newbery and Dr. Eliseo Orrantia in Marathon.

The article described “a medical renaissance” taking place in Marathon and an end to “the revolving door that has affected rural medicine across the country”. That door has stopped revolving in Marathon since 1997 thanks, in many ways, to the leadership of Eli and Sarah.

Let me put this important milestone in context. ...continue reading

Did you hear about Chris’s mint condition 1963 Shelby Cobra? Mechanics say he didn’t check the oil for decades, and the engine just seized one day on the way to work. When they opened it up, they say there wasn’t much left. Such a shame really.

Said Nobody. EVER.

Jazlin Mayhue is a researcher in Victoria, BC

Peter Hobza is a family physician in Victoria, BC

Robert O'Connor is a family physician in Victoria, BC


Introducing a new concept...

We all know folks who are not vigilant with preventive health for their body. However, a subset of them wouldn’t drive an irreplaceable million-dollar car until it was destroyed from lack of maintenance. A human’s life and body are irreplaceable, and worth at least a million dollars, when considering the price of an injury causing death. Therefore, it’s logical to help some people think of treating their body as well as a valuable car. ...continue reading

nichollsStuart Nicholls is a Clinical Investigator and Methodologist at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute and Methodologist at the Ontario Child Health Support Unit (OCHSU). He recently attended the 66th Annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) in Vancouver


The ASHG annual meeting takes place every fall towards the end of October or in early November, as the leaves are changing from green to reds and golds. Every four years the meeting also takes place against the backdrop of the US presidential elections. In 2012, in San Francisco, when the meeting ran from the 6th to the 10th of November, I recall standing in the main hall as part of the opening ‘mixer’ event, where several thousand scientists watched a big screen projection as President Obama was re-elected to office.

This year's meeting, which ran from the 18th to the 22nd of October, took place against the backdrop of a very different election ...continue reading


bonnie-larsonBonnie Larson is Family Physician at Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS) Health Centre


Recently I called the emergency department from my outreach clinic in an urban shelter.  Near the end of the day, the nurse mentioned that one of the clients staying there, a young aboriginal woman I will call Ms. Rain, was supposed to follow up on an abnormal lab result from a few days earlier.  As I looked the patient up on the ancient clinic laptop, I thought about the promise I had made to my daughter that morning to try to be home by suppertime.   I willed the computer to load the results a little faster so I could get home to my family.

Finally, several abnormal results, including an elevated D-Dimer, appeared.  ...continue reading

berghDr Rod Bergh is a general pediatrician who has practiced medicine since the early 1960s.


I have practiced Pediatrics for most of the 59 years since I graduated from Medical School and I have seen tremendous changes in our knowledge. For the past 16 years, I have restricted my practice to children with ADHD and have experienced the great satisfaction of seeing in this period about 3000 children turn their lives around.

Change is based on knowledge gained by research. However, I would like to point out an area where I believe we have ignored evidence, which has resulted in some less-than-optimal therapy for ADHD.  ...continue reading

David Cawthorpe is a Professor (Adjunct) in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Calgary, Alberta


By the end of this month the 22nd International Association for Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Allied Professions (IACAPAP) Congress will have come and gone. As this will have been its second congress hosted in Canada since 1954, it is perhaps time to take stock.

In Istanbul, in 2008, our team got its first whiff of tear gas and we won the 2016 bid; it was the beginning of an exciting journey, wherein the hope was to form a national community around this torch, a mental health Olympics for children and adolescents. Did we succeed? A good question. Regionally, we hoped to gain access for at least 1000 participants who would never otherwise have the opportunity to attend such a world class event. Did we achieve this or will this congress have been just another big business venture? The proof will, no doubt, be in the residual pudding! ...continue reading