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Canadians sue "reckless and selfish" TB man

There's yet another twist in the story of Andrew Speaker (right), the world's most famous TB patient. A group of Canadians who sat near him on his return flight from Prague to Montreal are now .

Mr Speaker - who ironically works as a personal claims lawyer - recently sparked international panic when he travelled abroad with a suspected case of , an extremely deadly form of tuberculosis. His diagnosis has since been downgraded to a less-severe form of the disease.

Seven Canadians and two Czechs filed suit in Quebec court. The Czechs - sisters Ludmela Urbanova and Eva Sustkova - sat right next to Mr Speaker on the flight. They're seeking $100,000 apiece in the suit. Montreal man Nassim Tabri, who sat one row ahead of Mr Speaker, he's suing the lawyer for his "reckless and selfish behaviour":

"Why should Mr. Speaker feel that his life is worth more [than] my life and the lives of the other innocent passengers on the plane?"

Michael Moore's crush on Canada

Michael Moore loves Canada, but the feeling isn't entirely mutual.

In , Mr Moore takes a long, hard look at the US managed care system. He visits countries with universal health systems, including the UK, France, Cuba and, yes, you guessed it, Canada, comparing them to the American system. The US model, rather predictably, comes off looking archaic, backward and far inferior to the others. Canada appears to be a healthcare heaven, if you take Mr Moore's word for it.

But some Canadians aren't pleased about SiCKO. At a press conference after the film's Cannes debut last month, several Canadian film critics, including Brian D Johnson of Maclean's and challenged Mr Moore’s rosy depiction of Canadian healthcare.
"Sicko makes it seem as if Canada's socialized medicine is flawless and that Canadians are satisfied with the status quo," wrote Mr Howell.

(You can listen to the at AOL’s Cinematical magazine.)

Photo: MichaelMoore.com

BC health ministry run by Chicken Little?


BC health minister George Abbott has promised the Conversation on Health won’t lead to privatized, US-style healthcare system. But critics worry his government's belie that promise, reports the CBC. The Conversation -- a series of public consultations -- wrapped up on July 7.

Coincidentally (or perhaps not), UBC health economist Robert Evans has just e-published (PDF) that examines the BC government's claims that the system's unsustainable. "What's the real issue?" asks Professor Evans. The answer: "The Inegalitarian Agenda." The chart below shows that Canadian healthcare spending as a proportion of GDP is, in fact, not really going up very fast at all.

I'm guessing Professor Evans isn't very popular in Victoria these days.

For more on BC's "sky is falling" healthcare cost claims, , with comments from Professor Evans.

Can the Canada Health Act survive?

Chantal Hébert continues her Demise and Fall of Medicare trope, warning that complacency has led to a situation where .

Watching Parliament these days, it is hard to believe that a provincial challenge to the Canada Health Act could be only a few months away. Health care has no profile in the current House of Commons; it has fallen off the official opposition radar. If an election had taken place this spring, it would not have been a major issue. But that could change quickly.


Complacency about healthcare does indeed appear to be a real problem these days. Manitobans complained that "The refrain of 'hallway medicine' didn't seem to echo to the same degree even though in many ways the problem still exists," Dr Darcy Johnson, president of the Manitoba Medical Association, told me at the time.

Scandal-wracked health authority boss resigns


has claimed another victim. George Tilley (right), CEO of Eastern Health authority in Newfoundland & Labrador, amidst an ongoing investigation and a pending class-action suit against the health authority.

that Mr Tilley's resignation is part of the fallout from a separate but equally serious Eastern Health scandal involving radiologist Fred Kasirye. That inquiry is : officials said last month that all Dr Kasirye's records had been reviewed, but they that they missed over a thousand records because of a computer glitch, infuriating Health Minister Ross Wiseman.

Provincial opposition leader, Liberal Gerry Reid, is now calling for the Health Minister and Justice Minister (who formerly served in the health portfolio) to .

Photo of George Tilley © CBC

How to beat RateMDs


One doc's got a novel strategy to , reports Pharm Aid. Dr Jeffrey Segal (pictured right), founder of , refuses to treat patients unless they promise not to discuss their care.

Patients are required to sign contracts saying that they will not say anything about the physician or the treatment they receive. In exchange for which, the doctor will actually treat the patient. There’s an interesting twist in the contract in which, if the patient signs, the doctor also agrees to abide by HIPAA regulations and not sell the patient’s personal medication information to marketers. (Segal “sells” this to patients by claiming he’s “giving” the patients additional privacy protection above the law.)

If a patient signs the contract and says anything about their care to anyone, the wealthy physician can go after the patient for damages. If the patient does not sign, the physician denies medical care. Simple as that.
Image: Dr Jeffrey Segal, from www.medicaljustice.com

MDs jump on trampoline industry

Spoilsport physicians are because they're just too dangerous.

(yes, such a thing exists) paints . According to industry numbers collected from 1989 to 2002, trampoline injuries fell from 3% to just 0.5% over that period.

The Canada Safety Council has bounced the issue around before. It blames the recent rise in absolute (not relative) trampoline-related morbidity on the introduction of the trampoline in Olympic gymnastics routines in Sydney in 2000.

The Brits are . Last week, four police officers arrived at a Surrey woman's home and demanded she take down her £280, 14-foot trampoline because it "breached regulations."

The July phenomenon

Well, it's July again. Long summer days are upon us, and so is the rising death toll associated with med students becoming MDs. Or so the legend goes.

So are there really more errors made in hospitals in the month when new docs don their long white coats?

, says Dr Jerome Groopman in the New York Times.

, says Dr Robert M Centor on his blog, DB's Medical Rants.

, though limited, seem to agree with Dr Centor. However, a 2005 NRM physician survey found doctors in Canada are split right down the middle:

'No surprise' UK terrorists were doctors

writes Columbia Journalism Review's Gal Beckerman, citing . Beckerman writes:

"Even though, from our first awareness of al-Qaeda in the nineties, it was obvious that the source of its rage was not socio-economic but ideological, it’s still hard for us to accept that people with such high levels of education and upper middle-class incomes could be involved in terrorist actions."
See also our earlier post on the UK terror plots.

Dr Andrew Wakefield has "no regrets"

about his upcoming malpractice inquiry starting July 16. Dr Wakefield, as you will recall, sounded alarm bells in 1998 about the alleged role of the MMR vaccine in the rise in autism rates, leading to widespread outrage from medical authorities and his semi-exile in Florida. Said Dr Wakefield:

As Vaclav Havel once said: "Follow the man who seeks the truth; run from the man who has found it." I can't tell you that we know that the MMR vaccine causes autism. But the Department of Health can tell you with 100 per cent certainty that it doesn't, and they believe that, and that concerns me greatly.
has been partly blamed on parents' refusal to give their children the MMR vaccine after Dr Wakefield's study became public. (The same thing happened in 2004 in the UK.)

Last year, of the link between the vaccine preservative thimerosal and autism.