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Monday, February 1, 2010

IN THE NEWS: Radioisotope-producing plant shutdown drags on

Chalk River nuclear plant to stay closed even longer
Is there anyone who is genuinely surprised to learn of further delays in reopening Atomic Energy of Canada Limited's Ottawa-area Chalk River nuclear facility?

Chalk River, which accounts for half the world's production of technetium-99 (an important radioisotope used in medical imaging exams), has been shut for repairs since leaks were discovered last summer. The temporary closing is only the latest of several in the past two years, and the series of shutdowns have thrown the nuclear medicine community into panic.

The nuclear plant's operator, AECL, announced last week that it wouldn't meet the March deadline it had proposed in late 2009. The new goal is to have everything up and running in April. [AECL news release] [Nuclear Engineering International magazine] [Canwest News Service]

The announcement should come as no surprise to readers of Canadian Medicine. No one likes a braggart, of course, but I can't help pointing out that, over a month ago, I predicted the March deadline wouldn't be met. [Canadian Medicine] The only surprise is that vindication came so far in advance of the actual deadline.

Surreptitious, unconscious pelvic exams exposed
Seventy-two percent of patients expressed disapproval of allowing medical students to practice doing gynecological exams on patients who have been anesthetized for a surgical procedure without obtaining consent, which is commonplace in teaching hospitals. The survey, which brings to light a practice that doctors and students have not spoken about widely in public, was conducted by a team of doctors and researchers from the University of Calgary and published in the January issue of the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology of Canada. [JOGC abstract (PDF)]

The Globe and Mail's medical columnist André Picard called for an end to the exams being done without consent, calling them unethical. "Patients have a right to say 'No.' They are not merely a collection of body parts to be practised on." wrote Mr Picard. "Patients are due respect and ethical treatment, whether they are awake or anesthetized, and no matter how potentially embarrassing the procedure may be." [Globe and Mail]

Quebec MDs request regular pay for Haiti volunteer work
Quebec orthopedic surgeons who volunteered to go to Haiti are now formally requesting that the provincial government pay them $704 per day while they're away. "A spokesperson for the Quebec's association of orthopedists said that while doctors are volunteering in Haiti, they still have bills to pay in Quebec," reported CBC News. The Quebec Ministry of Health has not responded to the request yet. [CBC News] [CJAD Radio news]

Alberta cuts prices of generic drugs
The Alberta government has negotiated a reduction of around 25% in the prices of generic drugs. [Government of Alberta news release] [CTV News] [CBC News]

Ostracizing smokers poses health threats: MD
In his new book "Écrasons la cigarette pas les fumeurs," published last month by Québec Amérique, Quebec psychiatrist Jean-Jacques Bourque says some smokers are harmed by overzealous doctors' urgings to kick cigarettes. Dr Bourque "démontre comment Santé Canada se prête à une propagande de peur en occultant les risques qu'affronte une certaine partie de la population en cessant de fumer." (He shows how Health Canada has undertaken a propaganda campaign of fear without recognizing the risks that a certain portion of the population faces by quitting smoking.) [Québec Amérique]

Dr Bourque says he thinks many psychiatrists agree with his views but are contradicted by other specialists. [Le Soleil]

"I think we need to show compassion, empathy and understanding towards those who are dealing with such difficulties instead of setting them aside," Dr Yves Lamontagne, the president of the Quebec College of Physicians, told the Montreal Gazette. [Montreal Gazette] Dr Lamontagne, who quit smoking two years ago, wrote an introduction to Dr Bourque's book.

Dosage may need adjusting by patient weight
A new paper in The Lancet says drug dosages should be tailored to patients' weights. [The Lancet viewpoint (subscription required)]

Dr Matthew Falagas, one of the report authors, said of himself (198 pounds) and a female student of his (120 pounds), “If we go with the same diagnosis of pneumonia or bronchitis to a New York hospital today... we will be given the same dose of antibiotics," he told The New York Times. "I should receive almost twice the dose compared with her.”[New York Times]

Orbinski gets Order of Canada
Dr James Orbinski, a University of Toronto professor of global health and the former Médecins sans frontières international president, was awarded membership in the Order of Canada "for his contributions as a physician who has worked to improve health care access and delivery in developing countries, and as an advocate for those who have been silenced by war, genocide and mass starvation." [Governor General of Canada news release] Also awarded on the same day were film director and producer Ivan Reitman (whose oeuvre includes"Ghostbusters" and "Stripes" as well as "Kindergarten Cop," "Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day" and many others) and hockey star Mario Lemieux.

9 comments:

  1. I recently came accross your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.

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    ReplyDelete
  2. SAM,

    As usual , worthwhile reading with the morning coffee......kudos on that!

    RE: what is happening in the world of nuclear " fission" and " fusion"

    here is a good read ensconced within your provided links:

    http://www.neimagazine.com/story.asp?storyCode=2053629

    * There is room for both "prediction" ( aha!) and " forecasting"(I see! ) in this arena,

    RE: Officer of Canada

    Congrats to all recipients in the "health" categories

    RE: Women under anaesthesia

    They say " a little knowledge is a dangerous thing".

    I say " too much knowledge creates a precautionary reality"

    Having attended the operational theatre ,for many different reasons, my greatest hope is that when I am under anaesthesia that what is "done" or "said" to/for/about my physical body .......... would be undergirded with the "highest respect" for my person....

    ...I live in hope..... :(

    RE: "Opportunity" costs for doctors

    It is a genuine reality that the money you "lost" (through lack of opportunity to earn it) has real value.
    Therefore some concession should be made to any " earning" person ( in any vocation) to have at least a tax concession for proven " acts of mercy" that disturbed their earning pattern.
    The route of reimbursement should be initiated by whomever the "sender" is.

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  5. Dr James Orbinski, a University of Toronto professor of global health and the former Médecins sans frontières international president, was awarded membership in the Order of Canada "for his contributions as a physician who has worked to improve health care access and delivery in developing countries, and as an advocate for those who have been silenced by war, genocide and mass starvation." [Governor General of Canada news release] Also awarded on the same day were film director and producer Ivan Reitman (whose oeuvre includes"Ghostbusters" and "Stripes" as well as "Kindergarten Cop," "Trailer Park Boys: Countdown to Liquor Day" and many others) and hockey star Mario Lemieux.

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