Roger Collier | CMAJ | September 6, 2019

  • People who use vaping products should seek medical attention if they experience shortness of breath, chest pain or other symptoms of pulmonary illness, warned Health Canada. There have been recent cases of acute pulmonary illness, and one death, in the United States that appear to be linked to vaping.
  • About 70% of surgical patients in Canada and the United States filled opioid prescriptions after low-risk procedures, compared to 11% in Sweden, found a study in JAMA Network Open. This “very large variability” suggests “the potential to re-evaluate prescribing practices,” the authors concluded.
  • Hospitalizations for mental health issues among children increased 55% between 2007 and 2017, according to a report from Children First Canada and the University of Calgary. The report states that suicide is the second leading cause of death among Canadian children and the national average for suicidal thoughts in the 13–18 age group is 22%.
  • Lung cancer in females is decreasing and breast cancer rates have decreased by almost half since 1986, according to the latest Canadian Cancer Statistics report from the Canadian Cancer Society. Other emerging patterns include increases in survival rates for blood-related cancers and the likelihood of pancreatic cancer soon overtaking breast cancer as the third leading cause of cancer death in Canada.
  • Ontario emergency room patients waited 16.3 hours on average in June 2019, up from 14.4 hours last June and a new record for the month, according to Health Quality Ontario. The average wait before being assessed by a physician was 1.6 hours.
  • The government of British Columbia is expanding coverage of lower-cost biosimilar drugs and claims the move will save $96.6 million over three years. In 2018, the province spent $125 million on biologics to treat conditions such as diabetes and arthritis.
  • The Alberta government should transform its health system to reduce average per-capita spending, stated a report on the province’s finances. Specific recommendations include delivering more health services outside hospitals (in private or not-for-profit facilities) and limiting “the increasing cost of physician services.”
  • An open letter signed by 100 emergency room professionals urged the Ontario government to reverse funding cuts to Toronto Public Health. The letter cites cuts to harm reduction services, diabetes prevention programs and food safety training.
  • In the first three months of this year, 119 people died from drug overdoses in Quebec, up from 82 during the same period last year, according to the National Public Health Institute of Quebec. On average, about a thousand Quebec residents visit emergency rooms each month for drug intoxication.
  • The government of British Columbia has pledged $8.87 million to schools for mental health and wellness programs over three years. The money will used for initiatives such as training for school staff, information nights for families and the development of new educational materials.

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