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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:

"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.

US launches new MyPlate icon as reminder for healthier food choices
Public

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.”

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.

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.

Health issues for adults born with cerebral palsy
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What happens to children born with cerebral palsy when they become adults?

In one case an individual born with cerebral palsy when they were an adult in their early 30’s had progressive deterioration of function involving their affected upper limb.

The individual was reviewed by their orthopedic surgeon who suggested botox injections for spasms and possibly some cosmetic improvement to the upper extremity although not optimistic for functional improvement.

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.)

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?

The Future of Psychiatry?
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Dr. Chris Sedergreen.

A highly respected psychiatrist has recently sent a letter to her patients announcing her decision not to return to clinical practice. I've known her professionally for over 15 years and can attest that her departure will leave a gap in her patient's lives that will be almost impossible to fill.

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?

Disagreement is central to progress
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It's never too late to change the world !

Ted Talks - Margaret Heffernan - Dare to disagreeIn this TED talks video Margaret Heffernan demonstrates "that disagreement is central to progress, that the best partners aren't echo chambers and how great businesses allow people to disagree".

http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/en/margaret_heffernan_dare_to_disagree.html

JN Mahy MD FRCSC

Dr Karpiak on Bill Good CKNW - Bureaucracy in health care is not sustainable
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Dr Dennis Karpiak, Internist and former BCMA Board Director from the Interior of BC speaking on the Bill Good Show CKNW radio 980 on July 10, 2012.

"It's become increasingly more difficult to sustain a practice in this province."

"The BCMA 20 years ago formed the Regionalization committee that predicted the rise of bureaucracy and a decline in patient care funding."

"Currently you can walk through any hospital and you'll see more administration offices than patient rooms."

Listen to the whole interview.

The future of medicine and health care in BC and Canada: Where are we going?
Public

Norman Rockwell Doctors Office2016-07-21 Dr Z. Essak, MD - Vancouver, BC

What is the future of medicine and health care in BC and Canada? Where are we going?

While everyone is out having fun in the summertime, the Government and other organizations, use this time to put out information they know few will have time to see or digest. Much like they also use the busy time of Christmas and the Winter holiday season to slip through items. Some people may just consider it prudent timing, others may see it as deliberate avoidance of proper public consultation.

In recent weeks we have heard about the "GP for Me" initiative of the BC Government with co-management by the Doctors Of BC, legally incorporated as the British Columbia Medical Association.

This initiative has been one of several emanating from the agreements of 2006 and subsequently.

The goal of "GP for Me", a GP for everyone in BC who wants one by 2015, has not been met.

However, we do not hear the Minister of Health, Terry Lake, or the Doctors Of BC speak of having failed to meet the target.

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.

News Items

Burnout and Resilience
Public

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.

US launches new MyPlate icon as reminder for healthier food choices
Public

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.”

Health issues for adults born with cerebral palsy
Public

What happens to children born with cerebral palsy when they become adults?

In one case an individual born with cerebral palsy when they were an adult in their early 30’s had progressive deterioration of function involving their affected upper limb.

The individual was reviewed by their orthopedic surgeon who suggested botox injections for spasms and possibly some cosmetic improvement to the upper extremity although not optimistic for functional improvement.

Nutrients in Our Food
Public

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.

Don’t FIPPA your PIPA without knowing this when it comes to personal health information.
Public

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.

Highlights of the BC OSCAR-EMR Users Group Meeting
Public

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.

BC Auditor General issues report on Electronic Health Record (EHR) Implementation.
Public

Health professionals not effectively or adequately engaged.

Approach should ensure health professionals, stakeholders and the public are informed.

BC Auditor General, EHR implementation in BCOn February 17, 2010 the Auditor General of BC, John Doyle, issued his report on “Electronic Health Record Implementation in British Columbia” which is available on their website http://www.bcauditor.com

In his report, the BC Auditor General, acknowledges “The development and implementation of an EHR system … is a complex and high-risk endeavour … because of the large investment of public funds” and “because collecting, storing and disclosing information electronically raises concerns about the privacy and security of personal health information”.

Concerns about the privacy and security of personal health information is not covered to any great extent in the BC Auditor General’s report.  However, several issues have been reported on by the BC Commissioner of Privacy and individual orders are available on their website, http://www.oipc.bc.ca/.  The BC Civil Liberties Association also provides information and discussion on eHealth issues on their website, http://www.bccla.org/ehealth.html

BC is one of five Provincial Auditor General Offices that will issue separate reports for their jurisdictions and the Office of the Auditor General of Canada will be issuing a joint summary report in April 2010.

There’s more in the full report than contained in the news release and Executive summary.  Here are some key highlights.

Internet search activity as measures of human health trends
Public

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:

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