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Burnout and Resilience
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Vancouver BC - Oct 19, 2011.

burning candleA talk on burnout in doctors at a recent conference in Vancouver provided good information and stimulated further exploration.

During questions the speaker said the prevalence of burnout in doctors is 20 percent and tends to occur in pockets or clusters.

The talk focused on burnout resulting from lack of recognition while caring for others. Although burnout can also result from lack of recognition from colleagues and co-workers, lack of resources, and degree of bureaucracy.

Burnout can also occur in other aspects of our lives besides our work.

Good news from the talk is research shows that when individuals examined their level of burnout and attended to the risk of burnout they were not only able to reduce their current risk but their future risk of burnout continued to remain less and even improved further over time.

Are medical errors the third leading cause of death or disability and what can we do to protect ourselves?
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TEDx Stanley ParkDr Z. Essak, MD - Vancouver BC - March 4, 2018

The TEDx Stanley Park event at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver on Saturday March 3, 2018 was incredible with 13 (a bakers dozen) memorable and inspiring speakers and 4 brief, fun energerizer programs to keep the audience engaged. Two of the presentations addressed medical errors.

With cancer as the leading cause of death and heart disease as the second leading cause, medical errors are referred to by some as the third leading cause of death and disability.

Whether errors are third or not, it makes sense that anything that helps to reduce or prevent medical errors is worth pursuing. Every error that can be prevented has direct benefit to individuals and their families.

Rick Mercer's 2013 Rant - Scientists Muzzled Again
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Rick Mercer Rant Scientists Muzzled Again

This is one of my favorite Rick's Rants. In less than 2 minutes he lays it all out. Beginning with the problem for scientists then in the middle he turns it up a notch, "Get over yourselves. It's not like scientists are the only ones being told to shut up. No, it's everyone." Then after some fine examples he ends with a polite, "Thank you for not talking." A great entertaining and thought provoking rant.

"Deja Vu" - Dr Norman Rigby
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Dr. Norman Rigby, Retired GP and Former Executive Director BCMA.

"The best thing we had going for us was the District 6 Newsletter."

"It excited the attention of the membership."

"What really changed things was when ... the administrator became the President of the hospital, ... and governments started to deal with the President not the Board."

Video highlight from June 3, 2006 Forum for Physicians, Vancouver.

"Deja Vu"
Dr. Norman Rigby, Retired GP and Former Executive Director BCMA.

Don’t FIPPA your PIPA without knowing this when it comes to personal health information.
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Vancouver, BC – May 3, 2010

Stethoscope and keyboardWhen it comes to the privacy of personal health information everyone in British Columbia needs to know how FIPPA (also known as FOIPPA) is different from PIPA, and the same may apply in other jurisdictions across Canada and elsewhere.

This is of particular importance when information is shared between your doctor's private office and a hospital or clinic operated by the Health Authority which is a public body.

In BC, three different legislative Acts govern the privacy and protection of individual personal health information.  There are some very important differences in how these work and the results they have that should be known to all doctors, health providers and patients/clients.

Federal Government seeks intervenor status in B.C. health care court case
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Z. Essak, MD - Vancouver - April 26, 2016.

Below is a link to the Globe and Mail article from April 13, 2016.

Hopefully, the debate around the court case, involving Dr. Brian Day's private Cambie Surgery Centre and the BC Provincial Government with a trial scheduled to begin June 6, will not become polarized with views of exclusivity between public and private health care but instead what we could and should do to make public health care more effective so that escape valves, like private care, are less needed without eradicating access to private care by individuals should they need it.

How far do individuals have to go? If the public system delivers the needed service great. If not, is there private care here at home in Canada or do people have to go to other countries?

Nutrients in Our Food
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USDA Nutrient Database search urlIf you ever find yourself wondering what nutrients are in different foods you might want to take a look at the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) Nutrient database. 

It provides a wealth of information on over 7,500 specific food items and details of the nutrients they contain down to the many different minerals, vitamins, types of fats, carbohydrates, proteins and various amino acids.

There are two very useful ways to look at this information on their website.

Highlights of the BC OSCAR-EMR Users Group Meeting
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Vancouver, BC - April 27, 2010

Oscar EMRThe two-day meeting held on April 19-20, 2010 in Vancouver was very well attended with over 150 people including physicians, office staff and system providers and integrators.  There was a buzz of excitement throughout the two days of meetings and many “ah-ha” moments amongst those attending.

Here are three highlights from the meeting, not in any particular order: the OSCAR-CAISI integration, the MyDrugRef physician social network for sharing prescribing tips that are also displayed in the new OSCAR prescription module, and the MyOscar personal controlled health record for patients to receive and even provide medical chart information as participants in their own health care with their physician and health team.

Requirements to be Deputy Registrar at College of Physicians and Surgeons (CPSBC) – Is something different?
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Z. Essak, MD – Vancouver, BC – 2015 Apr 23

medical regulation shield imageThe College of Physicians and Surgeons of BC is looking to hire a new Deputy Registrar with the deadline for applications of April 30, 2015 fast approaching.

Is there something different about the experience required in this job posting – “a career opportunity in medical regulation”?

The proven experience and qualifications all candidates should have begins with, "minimum 10 years of senior administrative experience in a complex health-related organization (e.g. regulator, health authority, association, etc.)"

Also the requirements, while including "medical degree preferred", are open to others with "master of business/health administration or law degree also accepted".

Is this a sign of changes or a shift underway at the College (CPSBC)?

Media depiction of Flu shot technique
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David Naismith (retired physician), Vernon BC, January 15, 2019.

On January 11th I was so disturbed by the portrayal of health professionals on TV, both in adverts and on the National, that I fired off an email to some colleagues. As usual, I learnt something as the thread progressed, so here is a distillate of that exchange.

Mistakes were made (but not by me): Cognitive dissonance
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Mistakes were made (but not by me): Why we justify foolish beliefs, bad decisions, and hurtful acts... a book co-authored by Elliot Aronson.

Psychiatrists specialize in the ails of individuals. Social psychologists specialize in the ails of groups. The eminent social psychologist Elliot Aronson was interviewed in a CBC audio "podcast" available from the following site:

http://podcast.cbc.ca/mp3/ideas_20080428_5430.mp3

It is an interesting program from the CBC radio “Ideas” on the subject of cognitive dissonance. It offers some insight into how people can so badly misinterpret things to fit their preconceived notions and prejudices and become incapable of accepting any other view.

The program runs about 50 minutes and I suspect if people even listen to just the first 12 minutes they might find it sufficiently compelling to listen to the rest. (The MP3 file can be imported into iTunes or other music manager or burned to CD.)

US launches new MyPlate icon as reminder for healthier food choices
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MyPlate IconOn June 2, 2011 US First Lady Michelle Obama and Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack unveiled the federal government's new food icon, MyPlate.  MyPlate is a new generation icon with the intent to prompt consumers to make healthier food choices and to seek more information by going to www.ChooseMyPlate.gov

“This is a quick, simple reminder for all of us to be more mindful of the foods that we’re eating,” said First Lady Michelle Obama. “It’s tough to be a nutritionist, too. But we do have time to take a look at our plates. As long as they’re half full of fruits and vegetables, and paired with lean proteins, whole grains and low-fat dairy, we’re golden. That’s how easy it is.”

US Federal Judge finds Google's Gmail scanning might violate wiretap law
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Gmail scanningSome patients and others have noticed when dealing with an MVA claim they start seeing more ads for lawyers when they are browsing the Internet making them wonder if someone is scanning their email.

Wired magazine reported on this week's decision in a proposed class-action alleging Google wiretaps Gmail as part of its business model.

"A federal judge today found that Google may have breached federal and California wiretapping laws for machine-scanning Gmail messages as part of its business model to create user profiles and provide targeted advertising. ...

"The decision is also a blow to Yahoo, whose free email platform with more than 300 million users also scans email to deliver ads. Microsoft’s rebranded free Outlook webmail offering does not scan messages of its 400 million users.

Internet search activity as measures of human health trends
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With millions of searches done on the Internet every day it is no surprise that search engine giants like Google are exploring many applications of the search activity data.

One interesting application of Internet search activity data is Google Flu Trends that while providing graphs of results from New Zealand, Australia and the United States, says of itself:

Lessons from Enron, for our system (and our profession)?
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Jim TurleyLast week, Jim Turley, Chief Executive Officer of Ernst & Young, was asked by Charlie Rose:

What are the lessons of Enron, and how did it happen?

His reply:

Well, look, I think that, at the end of the day, you know, the profession wasn't as focused on the delivery of quality as we needed to be, back in the 90s and leading up the the Enron era, and so what happened after was really important.

News Items

Will we see changes to copyright laws in Canada?
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2019-06-21 Vancouver, BC

Canadian copyright laws were updated in 2012. Now, this year, there have been two Canadian Parliamentary committees reporting and providing recommendations on changes to copyright laws in Canada.

With an election looming for later this year is this an opportunity for individuals and organizations affected to speak to candidates running for federal election? Will we see any changes to the copyright laws in the near future?

What are ethics and why are they important?
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PM Justin Trudeau, politics and tech giants.2019-03-12 Dr Z.Essak, MD - Vancouver, BC

Ethics are a big part of our lives as principles that govern our actions. Doctors take an oath to serve the patient's interest and not their own or that of others.

We expect ethical actions of people involved with our daily lives: teachers, accountants, professionals, merchants and others. It is the basis of the trust we have in them. We depend on them as people with privilege and power over ourselves, children and others.

It's not just ethics in medicine and health: it's ethics in politics, in technology, in corporations and the list goes on. People are growing more concerned about the decline of ethical leadership in politics and also business tech giants like Facebook, Google and others.

What happens when an individual's actions run contrary to ethical principles?

The late Dr Morris VanAndel, a well-respected GP and subsequent Registrar of the BC College of Physicians and Surgeons, reminded doctors in 2002 this way: "An ethical principle, by nature, is not modified by circumstances, regardless of the validity or justification of the reasons leading to the action."

Media depiction of Flu shot technique
Public

David Naismith (retired physician), Vernon BC, January 15, 2019.

On January 11th I was so disturbed by the portrayal of health professionals on TV, both in adverts and on the National, that I fired off an email to some colleagues. As usual, I learnt something as the thread progressed, so here is a distillate of that exchange.

"Cracked Science" light-hearted in-depth science for everyone
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The youtube channel "Cracked Science" with Jonathan Jerry provides some good humour and scientific knowledge in ten minute episodes to bring you up to speed and get you thinking.

Take a look at CRISPR is a Puppy and learn how gene therapy may be applied to human diseases.

Another episode helps to debunk the media hype on the discovery of a new human organ - "the Interstitium, the largest organ we never knew we had", Does a New Organ Explain Acupuncture? While some of this is opinionated to the reporter's own views on acupuncture, the evidence of the Interstitium is a good reminder of what we already know.

Are medical errors the third leading cause of death or disability and what can we do to protect ourselves?
Public

TEDx Stanley ParkDr Z. Essak, MD - Vancouver BC - March 4, 2018

The TEDx Stanley Park event at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre in Vancouver on Saturday March 3, 2018 was incredible with 13 (a bakers dozen) memorable and inspiring speakers and 4 brief, fun energerizer programs to keep the audience engaged. Two of the presentations addressed medical errors.

With cancer as the leading cause of death and heart disease as the second leading cause, medical errors are referred to by some as the third leading cause of death and disability.

Whether errors are third or not, it makes sense that anything that helps to reduce or prevent medical errors is worth pursuing. Every error that can be prevented has direct benefit to individuals and their families.

Celebrating and helping caregivers
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Patti and SherriDr Z. Essak, MD - Vancouver BC - February 16, 2018

According to Statistics Canada there are eight million caregivers in Canada. Most are unpaid, regular people who are taking care of aging and ailing parents, children with disabilities, and friends who need them. Caregivers get little or no attention, despite their massive numbers.

Some caregivers find inspiration and friendship from those they care for and some find themselves with personal challenges through caring for others. Healthcare providers may experience the same themselves and see this in those they serve.

Sharing caregivers' stories may help others find inspiration or recognize the impact on themselves and what they might be able to do.

Will the new BC Societies Act transition be a train wreck?
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Dr Z. Essak, MD - Vancouver, BC - February 13, 2017.

Train wreckNo one can deny the importance of BC societies to communities large and small throughout the province, assisting all kinds of people as charitable and not for profit societies, including associations that represent occupations and professions.

What can we learn from the early example of transition by the Doctors of BC, the BC Medical Association, formerly a Reporting Society, declaring themselves to be a member-funded society and escaping public disclosure. Do they even meet the required criteria?

When we ask, it may come as a shock to learn the BC Registry is not confirming compliance requirements are met. Is the BC Government failing to provide proper leadership and oversight to the tasks of government?

Is the public trust being neglected? Will there be havoc on public interest and individual rights? Are we going to see a train wreck?

Cannabis, marijuana, what do we know?
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Chemurgy2016-10-16 Dr Z. Essak, MD - Vancouver, BC

Cannabis is a plant that has been part of human history for thousands of years and on every continent. The uses of cannabis are far beyond just medical and recreational use.

What do we really know about cannabis?

Is cannabis more than just good for medical and health use, is it also good for the economy and the environment?

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