Roger Collier | CMAJ | December 1, 2017

  • Emergency department wait times increased 11% in 2016–17 and are up 15% from five years ago, reported the Canadian Institute for Health Information. Ninety percent of visits were completed within 32.6 hours, up from 29.3 hours the year before.
  • Six doctors have been sanctioned for cyberbulling by the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario. Three other physicians will face disciplinary hearings for allegedly sending “offensive, objectionable and inappropriate communications” to Dr. Virginia Wally, former president of the Ontario Medical Association.
  • HIV-positive Ontarians will no longer be prosecuted if they fail to disclose their status to sexual partners under certain conditions, announced the Ontario government. The change is in response to a report by the federal justice department that stated the “realistic possibility of transmission test is likely not met” if an individual is on treatment and has had a suppressed viral load for six months, is not on treatment but used a condom, or engaged only in oral sex.
  • There is a shortage of the heart medication sotalol in Quebec, which could affect thousands of cardiac patients in the province. Cardiologists have warned that it is the only treatment for some cardiac arrhythmias and there are no equivalent substitute medications. It is not clear why the shortage has occurred.
  • A streptococcus outbreak in London, Ontario, has claimed nine lives. There have been more than 132 reported cases of infection  in the area since April 1, 2016, and 22% of those cases required intensive care.
  • British Columbia has one of the most regressive “mental health detention regimes” in Canada, according to the Community Legal Assistance Society, a nonprofit organization. The province allows psychiatric facilities to detain people with little justification and deny patients’ access to lawyers, alleges the society.
  • Health care workers experience various forms of violence from patients regularly but it often goes unreported, because it has become normalized and many fear reprisal for speaking out, according to an Ontario study. Ideas suggested to address the problem include increased staffing, enhanced security and zero-tolerance violence policies.
  • Opioid-related overdose deaths increased 40% this year in Alberta, according to the province’s latest statistics. There were 482 such deaths between January and the end of September, up from 346 last year during the same period.
  • An investigation by Alberta’s privacy commissioner found that 49 staff members at a Calgary hospital accessed confidential medical information without reasonable justification. Disciplinary actions and one firing, were reduced or reversed, however, because Alberta Health Services had failed to provide proper training and oversight.
  • The Ontario government plans to ban eyeball tattooing and the implanting of jewelry into the eye unless performed by a regulated health professional. The practice came to public attention after an Ontario woman who had ink injected into one of her eyes developed major complications, including partial loss of vision.

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