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By Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | Oct. 14, 2016

  • More than 20 Ontario doctors who care for indigenous people on remote reserves said that the federal government is invading their patients’ privacy. According to the doctors, Health Canada regularly asks for detailed diagnostic information about patients before the department will cover travel for medical services, whereas the provincial government only requires a doctor’s signature.
  • A doctor shortage in Quebec’s Portneuf health region left a single physician to staff two emergency rooms for a 48-hour period. The regional health board said other areas are having similar problems, partly because doctors are adjusting their workloads to abide by new rules that require them to take on 500 patients in a family medicine practice.
  • Ontario introduced new measures to tackle opioid addiction and deaths, including allowing family doctors to prescribe Suboxone, a drug used to treat opioid addiction and overdose that many consider safer than methadone. The new measures also include the appointment of Dr. David Williams as provincial overdose coordinator to oversee development of a new overdose surveillance system.
  • A federal student loan forgiveness program designed to encourage doctors and nurses to work in underserved areas of the country mistakenly forgave over $113 000 for 30 people who were ineligible for the help. Employment and Social Development Canada didn’t say how the error occurred, but the 30 people won’t have to pay the money back.
  • About 40% of young people who are newly diagnosed with schizophrenia don’t have a follow-up visit with a doctor within 30 days, according to a study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry. Ontario standards recommend that patients with schizophrenia and other psychotic disorders should have a follow-up visit within 72 hours of diagnosis.
  • More than 9500 people across Canada have signed a Manitoba man’s petition calling for free parking at hospitals. The petition states that hospital parking fees pose a financial barrier to care and create harmful stress for patients.
  • Saskatchewan’s Regina Qu’Appelle Health Region handed out pink ladoos, a South Asian sweet, to raise awareness about cultural biases against having girl babies. A ladoo is usually shared to mark the birth of a boy, but the health region is gifting the sweets to celebrate all births.
  • British Columbia health officials warned mushroom hunters to be extra cautious after a three-year-old boy died and a man was hospitalized for poisoning from eating a “death cap” mushroom. The poisonous mushroom resembles an edible variety and it has been found in more than 70 locations in Vancouver, up from six in 2013.
  • Newly released prison inmates in Ontario will receive free doses of naloxone nasal spray as part of the province’s opioid strategy. The Ontario government is also planning to make the spray available to other high-risk individuals.

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