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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.”

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?

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.

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.

The future of medicine and health care in BC and Canada: Where are we going?
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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 the time to put out information they know few people 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.

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.

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.

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?

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.

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, in 2019, two Canadian Parliamentary Standing Committees delivered reports with recommendations on changes to copyright laws in Canada.

Will we see any changes to the copyright laws in the near future?

Has the BC Medical Association been stolen from the members?
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Doctors and members of the BC Medical Association are asking what is happening at the helm of the BCMA? Some are saying they think the new CEO Allan Seckel is not good for the Association and a sign that bad things are happening to the Association.

Who is Allan Seckel? How did he get to be the BCMA CEO? What is he doing as the CEO? And what is the BCMA Board doing?

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?

Society-changing infections - parallels to the polio epidemic of 1927
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Poliomyelitis – a.k.a. “The Crippler” or “infantile paralysis” - is a viral disease that primarily, and quite harmlessly, infects the gastrointestinal system. But if the poliovirus survives and is able to enter the bloodstream and nervous system it can cause damage to motor neurons in the spinal cord that connect the brain to muscles. Such damage interferes with muscle control, causing weakness or paralysis.

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."

News Items

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:

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.)

Health Records and Privacy (Humour?)
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If you haven't already seen this, here is a somewhat humorous piece from the American Civil Liberties Union

http://www.aclu.org/pizza/images/screen.swf

You can also check out their home page for other interesting news stories,

http://www.aclu.org

"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.

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