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The "win-win" of cutting lost-time accdients. Could card tables and Hudson Bay blankets help?


For years my father worked as personnel manager at a pulp and paper plant. One of his obsessions was reducing lost-time accidents. His main weapons in this battle were card tables, sets of carving knives, Hudson Bay blankets and a host of other similar items. He used them as annual reward for the entire workforce of about 150 for each year the plant was accident free. His run lasted 11 years and earned him the gratitude of the workers who coveted the annual prize and of upper management who saved a bundle by keeping everyone on the job.

Work accidents are a major source of physical and economic trauma. A four year Ontraio government program launched on April 1, 2004, reduced the number of annual work accidents by 57,000 or 20% of 285,000 incidents a year prior to that. The reduction saved employers $5 billion in direct and indirect costs.

Yesterday, the government set up a panel of experts on workplace accident reduction who are to report back to the Minister of Labour with recommendations this fall.

One of the areas the panel will consider is the success of "inspection blitzes" in accident prone areas. This year the provinces 430 inspectors have carried out blitzes on fork lift accidents and industrial falls. IN 2009 targeted areas included electrical safety, vehicle body repair and chemical hazards.

Few doctors and nurses need be reminded of the need for programs like this one. The Ontario government should be commended. For more on workplace accidents in Ontario go to the excellent site at http://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/index.php.

My only surprise was that I didn't see any mention of card tables or carving knives as rewards the employees of companies that go accident free for a year.




Quebec has only 59 Nurse Practitioners thanks to government fund fast

As reported yesterday, Sam Solomon, has left the blog to continue his studies in law school. Reports of the death of Canadian Medicine News were greatly exaggerated. It continues with regular contributions from David Elkins and other medical and health policy writers.

Ten years ago the idea of nurse practitioners was controversial, five years ago it was lauded as a solution to access to primary care and now, in most provinces, NPs are considered essential.

Nurse practitioners prescribe medication, order diagnostic tests follow patients and take the load off practitioners -- and the health care system. Canada needs more them, not fewer except, apparently, in Quebec where there are only 59. Ontario employs 1,900 up from about 1,400 three years ago.

In 2007, McGill's School of Nursing began a nurse practitioner program but so far it's been funded by the Faculty of Medicine with little help from the provincial government, says the Director of the School of Nursing, Dr Helene Ezer.

On March 10, Abbott Labs stepped up to support the program with a donation of $100,000. Said Jeff Devlin, General Manager, Abbott International, Canada: “Nurses and nurse practitioners comprise an essential component of our health care system. They play an extremely important role in the lives of Canadian patients. We must support their development to improve health care delivery.”

Quebec Health Minister Yves Bolduc was not as generous. His only comment: "(The government) remains committed to hiring 500 nurse practitioners over the next five years." Quebec teaching universities contend that there will be few to hire unless the government meets another commitment -- to put more money into NP training.

Bolduc maintains, "It's a new program that we're going to put in place in Quebec, and we have to develop the teachers. We have discussions with the universities and we're going to have a program in the next few years."

The first Quebec NPs will be graduating in June.

In a related item, yesterday Quebec's medical specialists joined general practitioners in support of the province's largest nurses' union, the 58,000 member Fédération interprofessionnelle de la santé du Québec. representing 58,000 nurses.

The doctors blamed the government for the severe nursing shortage -- estimated at 2,500 --that is crippling overcrowded ERs and causing operating room delays.


Thanks for reading

Sam Solomon, the founding editor, leaves Canadian Medicine News after four years. He will be missed. Postings will continue under David Elkins and other medical and health policy writers.

It's been a pleasure for me to write and interact with our readers. I am leaving to study law, beginning this fall. In the meantime, I will be taking some time off to pursue some personal projects.

Thanks for reading.

- Sam Solomon, editor