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Assisted dying laws ruled unconstitutional, a province-wide online health system crash, and calls for no-fault medical malpractice insurance in this week’s top Canadian health news.

Health News Recap

  • Quebec’s Superior Court ruled that assisted dying laws are too restrictive. The court ruled that requiring a person to be “at the end of life” or that natural death be “reasonably foreseeable” in order to access assisted death was unconstitutional.
  • The Ontario government announced it will restructure the ministry of health. The changes include combining responsibility for hospitals and capital projects under one division and creating a new division for mental health.
  • Online health systems crashed in every regional health authority in Manitoba after the failure of a single server triggered a chain of outages. The crash brought down more than 60 systems, including emergency room patient records and hospital admissions and discharge tracking systems.
  • The Collège des médecins du Québec called for publicly funded no-fault medical malpractice insurance. Under the proposed system, patients harmed in medical accidents could submit claims and receive automatic compensation based on level of injury instead of having to sue doctors.
  • Nova Scotia delayed family practice anesthetist training because the Nova Scotia Health Authority’s perioperative group could not agree whether the role should be used in the province. Family doctors with additional training in anesthesiology are widely used in Ontario and Western Canada except in specialized cases, such as brain and heart surgery.
  • The New Brunswick Medical Society warned that violence against health workers is increasing with patient volume and rising mental health and drug-related visits. The New Brunswick Nurses Union called for improvements in security, citing an 82% annual turnover in hospital security guards in the province.
  • The number of physicians practising in Nova Scotia has remained roughly the same over the last decade despite recruitment efforts. According to health officials, the province attracted 385 new doctors in 2016, but there’s been a net gain of only 20 doctors per year over the past decade because others retired or left the province.
  • Alberta mandated reporting of cases of severe pulmonary disease linked to vaping. The new rule comes amid report from the United States of a vaping-related illness that has affected more than 450 people and killed five.
  • Saskatchewan’s health minister promised to investigate concerns raised by psychiatrists about more than a dozen safety and suicide risks in the design of a $248-million children’s hospital. The concerns include poor sightlines from nursing stations, dangerous equipment stored in unlocked cupboards, and doors that could be easily barricaded.
  • Alberta health officials reported delays in the supply of this year’s flu vaccine. The updated vaccine is supposed to become available in October but the release date has been pushed back while the World Health Organization determines the dominant strain.

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