It’s complicated: the ethics of pandemic preparedness and response

Ross Upshur decided to focus his research on the ethics of pandemic response when he was working in public health during the SARS outbreak of 2003. Currently the head of the division of clinical public health at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health and associate director of the Lunenfeld Tanenbaum Research Institute at Sinai Health, Dr. Upshur has published numerous papers on pandemic ethics. He’s also consulted with the World Health Organization, Doctors Without Border

Turns out 37C isn’t normal body temperature after all

In case parents needed to hear another thing we’ve been getting wrong all along, researchers from Stanford University published a study recently that suggests we might need to rethink what we’ve been told are normal and fever temperatures. The study analyzed databases from the mid 1800s to 2017, and found that humans’ normal body temperatures are now running almost 0.5 degrees Celsius cooler, compared to the 1800s. This means that normal human body temperature isn’t the 37C or 98.6F that most o

AI in health care: improving outcomes or threatening equity?

Scientists warn that the unexamined use of artificial intelligence (AI) in health care could result in worse health outcomes for marginalized people. Recently, a panel of experts gathered at Women’s College Hospital in Toronto to discuss the risks that AI poses to health equity. Dr. Ruha Benjamin, an associate professor of African American Studies at Princeton University, explained that computer algorithms often produce bias because “human decisions comprise the data and shape the design...

We’re way past the point of preventing climate change, it's time to adapt

In climate change research, adaptation used to be a dirty word. Twenty years ago, when the Prairie Adaptation Research Collaborative (PARC) was formed at the University of Regina, environmental research groups refused the centre’s research funds, recounts David Sauchyn, senior research scientist at PARC. “At the time, people argued we can still prevent climate change and everyone who advocates adaptation is giving up,” he says. In his 1992 book on climate change, former U.S. vice-president Al Go

Nausea-inducing illness caused by cannabis still underdiagnosed

Emergency doctors in the Greater Toronto Area say cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome (CHS) is going underdiagnosed and there isn’t enough public awareness of the condition. Dr. Lloyd Gordon, an emergency physician at Humber River Hospital, says he often sees one patient a shift with the condition. “You look at their history and they’ve had ultrasounds, CAT scans, and nowhere does it say that the patient was advised to stop smoking marijuana,” he says.

Are too many babies getting tongue-tie surgery?

Ilana Shapiro* describes breastfeeding her first baby as a nightmare. Not only did her nipples hurt while nursing, but the pain lasted for two hours afterward, due to vasospasms—when the blood vessels in the nipple tighten and spasm. “The pain was so bad that I couldn’t sleep. Then, just as the pain started to go away, she wanted to be fed again,” says the mother of two, who lives in Toronto. Six weeks postpartum, Shapiro found herself, at the advice of friends, at the Jack Newman breastfeeding

Is the culture of medicine contributing to miscarriages among female physicians?

When Dr. Ayesha Khan had a miscarriage after years of struggling with infertility, she didn’t mention it to colleagues or miss a beat at work. Khan, a clinical assistant professor in emergency medicine at Stanford University, now thinks that type of silence could be preventing pregnant doctors from understanding the potential risks of night shifts and long hours in early pregnancy and from seeking accommodations they may need. At the recent FemInEM Idea Exchange conference in New York City, Kh

Six Canadian moms share the stories of their abortions

In recent years, women have shared stories of their infertility, miscarriages, postpartum depression and birth trauma. But there is one area of reproductive health that moms are still reluctant to open up about, and that’s abortion. It may surprise you to learn that many of the women who have abortions in Canada—perhaps the majority—are moms. According to data from the Canadian Institute for Health Information, about 39 percent of the women who had abortions at Canadian hospitals reported at le

The Vagina Bible: Beating bad science on women's sexual health

FOR more than 10 years, Jennifer Gunter has been fact-checking claims about women’s bodies and writing about it all – sometimes humorously, at other times using expletives. She has been called Twitter’s resident gynaecologist and her Twitter fans (she has over 200,000 followers) describe those she has admonished for their ignorance as having been “guntered”. Now, she is poised to reach out to many more when her book …

Canada’s faculties of medicine commit to improving Indigenous health

Boosting the number of Indigenous medical students, bolstering Indigenous curriculum among measures promised. The Association of Faculties of Medicine of Canada has approved a Joint Commitment to Action on Indigenous Health that Indigenous health leaders say provides a much-needed roadmap for training medical students to better serve Indigenous communities. In May, leaders representing Canada’s 17 faculties of medicine committed to building stronger relationships with Indigenous communities, i

New resources to aid doctors in lowering opioid doses

New resources are emerging to help physicians across Canada reduce opioid doses for patients. They come at a time when doctors feel pressure from regulatory agencies to deprescribe opioids but don’t feel trained or supported in the process. “We spend a lot of time in medical schools teaching doctors how to start medications — not just opioids —and we don’t really talk about stopping any of them,” said Dr. Lori Montgomery, medical lead of the Calgary Pain Program for Alberta Health Services.

Challenges of treating chronic pain contributing to burnout in primary care

Primary care providers who treat patients with chronic pain appear to be exhibiting signs of burnout, in large part because they often feel unable to help patients overcome their complex challenges. This was a conclusion of the authors of a recent paper in PLoS ONE based on interviews with 19 doctors and 8 nurses in primary care, supplemented with 40 hours of observations. “Their narratives suggested experiences of depersonalization, loss of job satisfaction and emotional exhaustion in relation

Ontario premier’s unprecedented partisan attack on public health worries health experts

ntario Premier Doug Ford may be dialing back some of his cuts to Toronto Public Health but not before he attempted to justify his decision by calling the Toronto Board of Health a “ bastion of lefties ” in Ontario’s legislature. That kind of partisan attack on public health is unprecedented in recent history, according to health experts and academics. “I have no recollection of an attack by a politician of this magnitude on public health officials,” said Ian Culbert, the executive director of t

Why Aren’t the Doctors Where the Sick People Are?

West Hill is a quiet neighbourhood nestled between the branches of the Highland creek in east Scarborough, bounded by the elite Scaroboro Golf and Country Club to the west and Lake Ontario to the south. In the 1950s and 60s, middle-class families drawn by the area’s affordable houses and rural beauty turned the community into a post-war suburb. Along Kingston Road, which cuts through the neighbourhood, motels and plazas served drivers passing through towards Toronto. When the 401 was built nort

Here’s why you can ignore the Dirty Dozen foods list without guilt

You’ve probably heard of the “Dirty Dozen,” a list of 12 fruits and vegetables named annually by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) to be the most laden with pesticides. The US advocacy group’s message is that people can limit their exposure to pesticides by buying these 12 products from the organic aisle. Toddler favourites are routinely among the top offenders, and this year’s list, released in March, is no different: strawberries and grapes are named as pesticide peddlers. If you’re pregna

Is it ethical to recruit doctors from countries with physician shortages?

As Nova Scotia looks to the United Kingdom for doctors, and Britain comes under fire for importing more doctors than it trains, health human resource experts are calling for ethical and local solutions to Canada’s physician shortage. Staff from the Nova Scotia Office of Immigration, the Nova Scotia Health Authority and the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Nova Scotia recently travelled to four cities in England and Scotland to meet with 36 doctors interested in working in the province. The

How female physicians are supporting each other in addressing professional inequities

ith the launch of Time’s Up Health Care , the discrimination women face in medicine, from the gender pay gap to harassment to leadership barriers, is more visible than ever. What’s less known is how women are surviving in their sometimes-toxic work environments, and how they’re pushing back to address system inequities. One key, and simple, strategy is to demand the Dr. title. Dr. Justine Amaro, an emergency physician and assistant professor at the University of Ottawa, warns female trainees ag
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