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Lauren Vogel | CMAJ | April 27, 2018

  • Hospitalizations for asthma among Canadians under age 20 have dropped by almost half (from 154 per 100 000 to 75 per 100 000) over the past decade, likely due to improvements in prevention, treatment and management of the disease. But asthma remains a leading cause of hospital stays among children and youth, reports the Canadian Institute for Health Information.
  • Doctors issued an estimated 4253 prescriptions for the abortion medication Mifegymiso in 2017, the first year the drug was available in Canada. Health Canada received only one report of an adverse reaction, a case of heavy bleeding.
  • Opioids were involved in one in six deaths among Ontarians aged 25–34 in 2015, and one in nine deaths among those aged 15–24, according to researchers at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto. Overall, there were 733 opioid-related deaths in the province in 2015.
  • British Columbia introduced legislation to ban payment for blood and plasma, joining Ontario, Alberta and Quebec. Pay-for-plasma clinics have set up shop, however, in Saskatchewan and New Brunswick.
  • The Alberta government reached a tentative agreement with the province’s physicians after months of negotiations. According to the Alberta Medical Association, “the tentative agreement addresses budgetary concerns of the province while recognizing the contributions and stewardship of physicians.”
  • BC Health Minister Adrian Dix questioned Health Canada’s approval of a homeopathic remedy containing rabid dog saliva after receiving complaints that a naturopath gave the remedy to a misbehaving child. Dix also raised concerns about the ability of naturopaths to regulate their own profession.
  • The Saskatchewan Health Authority launched an external security review of health facilities after an increase in violent incidents and thefts from patients’ bedsides. The review will focus on hospitals, and will also assess the safety of staff and visitors as they walk between health facilities and parking lots.
  • Nova Scotia is hiring three more physician recruiters, who will focus on attracting physicians to the underserved northern zone of the province. Last year, the province invested in five recruiters, who hired 103 physicians, just shy of their goal of 110.
  • An online resource to help family doctors diagnose gastrointestinal issues enabled the city of Calgary to cut its wait list for referrals to gastroenterologists by 98% (from 2742 to 30) between 2016 and 2018. The Enhanced Primary Care Pathways resource provides in-depth diagnostic and treatment information, as well as a dedicated phone line between family doctors and gastrointestinal specialists.
  • Quebec fell short of its goal of providing 10% of pregnant women with access to midwives. Of the 80 000 women in Quebec who gave birth last year, nearly a quarter wanted midwives but only 4% had access.

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