Contact Us

I welcome comments and information and ideas. Every week I hear from nurses (active and retired), LPNs, doctors, other health care workers, health care unions, board members, politicians, former patients and patient family members. You all provide great background for things that get written and questions asked. And you confirm that what is said here is what others experience.

So do keep in touch. 62,000 of you have so far.

If you write a comment to a piece appearing here, I read it first to make sure t doesn’t get anyone in trouble, whether it’s an obvious libel or enabling an employer to track them down and take revenge. But don’t let that inhibit you. We can still have a private conversation and the ideas and information I have learned from front-line, as well as behind-the-scenes, workers has lead me to write about issues and learn about things that are horribly, horribly wrong.

The more people who write from wherever, the wider net we can cast and more universal the story told. There are places at the end of each post which lets you contact me.

Health care has gotten to be as bad as it is because of our universal silence and because of the executive clique’s ability to play divide and conquer. Nova Scotia, for example, is so compartmentalized that any complaint/complainant is made to feel this is a one-off. Hell, the IWK has a stated policy to treat complaints as “feedback”, so in their loopy world, the more complaints the better the feedback. Things are not great in this province. It’s time to speak up and demand change and let those in charge know we’re watching, we know their failures and it’s not enough to offer up the usual old shit platitudes.

We have lots of people in charge, but no one who will take responsibly when there is a problem.

Speak up. Start your conversation here. Invite your friends and colleagues to check the site out.

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50 Responses to Contact Us

  1. Mary says:

    Is there a need for 2 unions in the province for nurses? I think not. Other provinces have one union represent nurses why must we have 2? NSNU simply copies what NSGEU does anyway.
    I am sure this could save money if NSNU collapsed and we, the nurses, joined NSGEU!!
    Nurses do not know how to collapse their union, How come the powers that be have not come up with this idea??????

    • cathy thomas says:

      A little late in responding as I just noticed this page today. I decided however I would speak to these comments.

      I think rather than make derogatory remarks with regard to NSNU, NSGEU members should be taking the high road as our NSNU President Janet Hazelton is when delivering the message to government we want to remain STATUS QUO. We do not want to lose any one of our members. I’m sure NSGEU feels the same way.

      As far as NSNU copying NSGEU this simply is not true, it’s called wage parity and I think every nurse deserves the same. We do differ as a union, we are diverse; we wear black and white etc… Don’t judge us, get to know us. Your members are just as valuable. We must stand strong, together, in solidarity during these turbulent times and fight for status quo. Do not let this government divide and conquer the unions!!!
      Cathy T

  2. Edd Twohig says:

    The cost of BHP (Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia ) in Nova Scotia must be in the millions and the effect on the quality of life of those suffering from it is suffered by thousands. My many years of diagnosis, treatment, surgery and prescription drugs, and the booking of another invasive surgery, led me to do extensive research into alternate treatment. I discovered a procedure that I wanted to have done but for which sufficient research had not been done to pass approval. The obvious reason that the preliminary research had not been carried forward was because no one could make money because the procedure was so low cost and effective. No drug company could make money from it and indeed would lose millions from lower demand for drugs that they now sell for treatment of the prostate. Urologists would lose revenue from decreased necessity for surgery. I found that none of the research showed any negative results. The only ones to benefit from this procedure would be the patients and the financiers of health care.

    The procedure could be carried out in a Doctors office, similar to a biopsy of the prostate. The procedure uses Ethanol, an ingredient already in extensive use in health care, and cheap. The patient would experience discomfort no worse than the dreadful prostate biopsy, and would experience immediate and long lasting relief.

    I have inquired of many Urologists and other medical doctors but almost none have been aware of this procedure. I have tried to interest politicians in the cost savings but none will make an effort. I have talked with the researchers who carried out a preliminary evaluation and had tried but failed to find financing for the required subsequent trials.

    My wish would be for our government, who would benefit most from the success of this procedure, to have research undertaken to confirm or disprove the benefits that my research indicates, and if confirmed, have our Medical Schools and Profession do the clinical trials necessary to obtain approval of the procedure.

    The following is a very brief identification of the research undertaken that I have found. I found that none of the research identified any negative results. I have more detailed and lengthy abstracts for these studies available, as is reference to the studies themselves.

    Transurethral Ethanol Ablation of Prostate (TEAP)

    A discussion of the alternate treatment TEAP follows;
    This recent development is very promising for the treatment of BHP ( Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia) . The procedure involves injecting ethyl alcohol into the lateral and middle lobes of the prostate. The alcohol kills prostate tissue, which the body then absorbs. Early results are encouraging, and show that all patients (who were originally scheduled for TURP (surgery) were able to urinate freely after 24 hours.”

    The following are abstracts of Conclusions of Studies on this procedure.

    1. “We found that TEAP is a safe, minimally invasive, treatment, which significantly improves voiding dysfunctions in patients with symptomatic BPH.”
    2. “This preliminary multi-center data, representing the largest reported cohort to date, suggests that TEAP may be considered an effective minimally invasive treatment option for lower urinary tract symptoms secondary to BHP. “
    3. In this randomized clinical trial, transurethral ethanol ablation of the prostate was safe and effective at 6-month followup. No serious adverse events were encountered. Although ethanol can safely ablate prostatic tissue, further studies will be necessary before widespread clinical application.”
    4. “The technique appears to be safe and cost effective. No occurrence (50 month evaluation} of retrograde ejaculation was detected. The long-term effects of ethanol injection of the prostate were satisfactory and acceptable as a minimally invasive therapeutic modality of selected patients.
    5. A multi-center trial was ongoing in the USA in 2002 but the results have not been published.

    (1) Noor, N.P. Buchholz, Henry O. Andrews; Mark K. Plante; Journal of Endourology, August 2004. 18(6)519-524.
    (2) A European multi-center evaluation. October 2004
    (3) University of Vermont College of Medicine. The FDA regulation prevented further patient study in the USA without a formal New Drug Application. Telephone conversation with the University indicated that funding for further research could not be obtained.
    (4) University of Alexandria, Egypt.
    (5) USA study results have not been released, nor has the drug company or other financial source for the study been disclosed. The secrecy would indicate that the results were so favorable that the organization funding the study did not want it revealed.

    • Our health care system is always saying we should be our own “health care advocates” – they don’t really mean it or welcome it, it’s just another phrase they toss out there to make it sound like they are receptive to ideas. They’re not. Well, here’s someone who has done a lot of research. Now that’s he gone public with it, perhaps the system can address his questions and comment on his research.

      • DM says:

        Hi Allan,

        I want to let you know I have copies of MSI records (my own). Amazing document. Also I have four copies of access audits of those who were in my records. All were altered.

      • I am not surprised. Nurses have told me they wished we had electronic records because then everything would be dated-stamped. Right now, paper records are altered and instructions revised and nurses feel vulnerable because of these “modifications”.

        Another person suggested that whenever one gets copies of health records they should be in colour so you can see the different inks and when things were changed.

        There’s an awful lot of distrust in our system.

    • Barry says:

      Very interesting and will follow progress of this proceedure. I think I’m in very early stages, followed my doctor’s advice and tried Flowmax for a month with no results. Bata Prostrate had great results after 6 weeks.

  3. Bob Brown says:

    I don’t believe you have reported on DHW policy and behaviour toward exploiting opportunity for applying information technology in primary care and specialist clinics (EMR, etc.) to provide better, more efficient, and lower cost patient services. Perhaps you feel you do not know enough about it? I assure you, you already know more than the Minister.

    The current approach is proving to be high cost, expensive, Ineffective, and discredited around the world. The basis for an efficient, cost effective, evidence-based approach exists in Nova Scotia, but it is being actively suppressed by DHW.

    • This is an area I want to look at, and I have been gathering reports from other jurisdictions. Thanks for raising it. Any ideas on why the Department is resistant to working with a Nova Scotian company? The official line is we want local input and solutions – that is until they’re offered.

  4. Peter McInroy says:

    Thanks for the great service you are providing in high-lighting some of the inequities and rampant over-spending (executives salaries and perks) in our current health care system. Please keep up the good work.

  5. MARY CHARLENE HOULIHAN says:

    I have been told to get in touch with the IWK for my prescription. Can someone please tell me how to do this?

  6. Our problem in Hantsport is that we have not had a permanent doctor since Sept. 2011. There are 2500 patients on the practice’s list and one nurse practitioner on duty. It takes six months to make an appointment to see a doctor. According to Capital Health and to the Department of Health, no doctor wants to come to town to practice. Neither organization know why. How do we find out their reasons? When we know them, we can address them. Ramona Jennex does not return my calls. I publish a monthly newsmagazine for Hantsport, Avonport, and Mount Denson. My readers and I would appreciate any suggestions to help us get a doctor.

    • Hi Heather,

      Thanks for writing. Did the previous doctor retire or move? Would he have any insights into why other doctors supposedly don’t want to practice in Hantsport?

      It’s a pleasant community and it’s close to Halifax, the airport, and the rest of the Valley so there is access to life amenities that many other communities in the province and region lack. Those should be benefits to selling the place to a doctor.

      Many, many years ago (probably 30?) a community in East Hants also struggled to get a doctor to come in to take over the practice of an old, much-loved elderly doctor (Dr. Tim Snow who had also been involved in municipal politics). They constructed and furnished a medical office. This allowed them to offer an economic advantage to young doctors starting out. This is just something rattling around in the back of mind. You might check around to see if someone has a better memory and see how that has played out. (I wonder if the folks in Scott Brison’s office could help, since it was near where he grew up.)

      The other thing I have to ask is how hard Capital Health is looking for a new doctor for the community? Because of the way our system is set up, rather than have coordination and cooperation, there is competition for money and resources. So is Hantsport in competition with Metro? You’re on the geographic periphery and I would be concerned that some people in authority would hope you’d find relief by crossing into Annapolis Valley Health’s territory and go away.

      I would ask point blank what efforts both Capital Health and the Ministry have made to recruit a doctor for your community? Who have they spoken to and what did they tell them and what were the comments back? It’s not enough to merely place an ad. And if it’s a government or health authority ad, it’s pretty generic.

      I know a couple who have retired to the Valley and are looking for a doctor. They learned that AVH had a line for people to call to get on a doctor waiting list (902-690-3424). I don’t hold out much hope because so many people are looking for a doctor.

      Have you contacted Doctors Nova Scotia (doctorsns.com) to see what, if any help or advice, they can offer? Maybe they could explain what makes a community attractive/unattractive to a doctor?

      Has the community engaged in their own direct recruitment efforts? So many communities are in the same pickle that Hantsport is so you can’t be passive and leave it to the health authority and government because others are on the same hunt. I would contact the Dal Medical School and ask them about recruiting new grads to your community. I would ask what these grads are looking for? And I would ask if they know of alumni who might be interested in relocating (I’d also ask Doctors NS these same questions). We go through life changes, so some medical professionals might be open to changing geographic location because of where they are in life.

      But when selling the community to professionals, don’t fall back on the usual chamber of commerce generic stuff. Every community in Atlantic Canada talks about what a wonderful place it is to raise a family. If I’m a young professional starting out, I’m not there. Talk of raising a family suggests a life of drudgery restricted to work and TV at night. If I’m single or newly married, my peers are going to dinner, to concerts, the theatre. Sell the position in relation to how cheaply and well they can live and still enjoy the culinary delights and culture of the Valley, the proximity to both Halifax, airport, the university town of Wolfville and Kentville, which is a medical centre. That may seem counter-intuitive to your goal, but I think if you can show a lifestyle, with a low/turn-key medical practice, great cheap real estate and proximity to other medical support you have a stronger message to deliver.

      One doctor told me that they were one of more than two dozen doctors who left their hospital, in part, because of the health authority’s “refusal to give a new contract when the old one expired, grossly inadequate OR time for surgeons, inept secretaries who were threatening patient safety. If the administration provides the secretary you have no say in who this person is, but you are legally responsible for their work. etc etc.”

      The doctor continued, “Administration dictates to the community health boards who appear to be cowed by them. Not one physician who left our district was ever contacted by a member of the health board even though some spoke publicly to the press about the lack of administrative support. Others moved their families because they could no longer work with the administration.”

      Another community in the province lost six doctors within 13 months. A doctor I spoke with just rolled his eyes when I asked why. I have to wonder if one of the impediments to the doctor hunt is the poor reputation places have because of both the micro-management done by local health authorities as well as lack of support?

      Thanks to the Jodrey family’s business interests, you have great management talent in Hantsport. I would strike a committee to brain storm on ideas and also see if their HR departments could help shape your message into a really attractive package to potential candidates.

      Good luck and good health.

  7. Heather says:

    Many thanks! I’ll make a list and put it in my next issue and on my blog.
    The lack of a doctor will be a primary issue at the next election.
    Dr. Wile was the doctor here for a few years. I left a message for her to call me but she has not. A close friend of her’s said she left because she was over-worked and, by the time she paid her expenses, she was earning less than her staff.

  8. Heather says:

    I did contact Doctors Nova Scotia. Low and behold! They recently did a survey of their members to find out what they wanted when they considered a practice. Neither Capital Health nor the Department of Health and Wellness asked them.
    -Heather

    • No one asks the simple questions. There’s no money in that. Instead organizations hire consultants to study what a single, straight-forward question could answer.

      Did Doctors NS tell you want the answers were?

      Good for you for taking the initiative.

  9. Heather says:

    Everyone here in town expects the government to get us help. I quoted your suggestions and website in my article and I included all your comments and all of Doctors Nova Scotia on my blog at hantsborder.blogspot.com. I’ve seen your articles in the CH. I wonder if any politicians – municipal or provincial pay any attention. At least we know that the public does.

    • Thanks Heather.

      I fear if communities leave this type of health care problem to the government to solve then it will merely become more empty promises around election time. If they do move, then expect a solution sometime after the writ is dropped. Can residents wait and risk their health and the health of those they love until then? It doesn’t seem fair or right.

      As for the politicians paying attention, yes. I regularly hear from Jamie Baillie, head of the provincial PC party and Stephen McNeil, head of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party, as well as Leo Glavine, who is the Liberal health critic. Back in the spring the Liberals announced that reducing the number of health authorities in Nova Scotia was part of their next election platform. The provincial Conservatives haven’t yet formalized that, but Mr. Baillie’s comments and opinion pieces are along the same lines: cut the overhead and redirect tens of millions of dollars away from executive salaries to front-line care. The only people defending the status quo are the NDP.

  10. paul says:

    Neither executive salaries nor nurses and other workers salaries are the problem here. It is the efficiencies that are ignored from other health care systems that is our big problem.

    Capital Health has about 6500 computers. The UKs NHS is using Virtual Desktop devices that save about 90 percent of the energy one would use with a personal computer. I have tried for the last five years to sell this concept to the Nova Scotia Government. The problem is Unions protecting IT techs from possible lay offs resulting from deployment of Virtual Desktop Computing.

    Nova Scotia is one of the most backwards places in this regard in the world. Even the Indian State Insurance Corporation that oversees all public hospitals in India has eliminated personal computers for Computing Virtual Desktops. I lobbied Efficiency Nova Scotia for funding these devices, but not a School Board, Health Authority or Government agency in this province has taken advantage of this technology which is saving health care systems millions across the Globe.

    • I disagree on administrative salaries not being an issue. They account for tens of millions of dollars in this province without any evidence that we are getting better outcomes than other jurisdictions who operate with a more modest overhead. Hell, there are questions about whether we are paying more for less.

      Under the merged services which our system is supposedly working towards, IT was mentioned. But it has also been given an extension far beyond the other service areas. One consultant suggested this was because each health authority in this province collects different information from patients and uses different forms. This lack of continuity negatively impacts patients (especially if they have to be transferred between facilities) and the system.

      I know that nurses would love to have electronic patient records. That’s because all inputs on patient care would then be date-stamped. Now, with paper records, details and information can be altered without any clear trail of who did or ordered what, when, and nurse feel they and their patients are placed in jeopardy because of this. The resistance to digital files, in part, comes down to the administrative fear of a clear, traceable patient file, which could highlight incidents of negligence and lead to a lawsuit.

  11. Louise says:

    Mr Lynch,

    I love your articles, and your take on most things. I think your next article should take a look at the staffing ratios of nurses to patients. Also, take a look into the young fresh new grad nurses being left without proper back up (support) in case of a crisis. I assure you (as a RN), it will make for a very interesting article.

    You are able to say things that I am not able to say and for that I am grateful.

    • Thank you for your note.

      As I have said throughout this blog, the problems with health care start in the executive suite. Front line staff can only do what they are allowed to do and can only work with the resources they are given.

      Year after year after year after and study after study after study – and nothing changes. Laundry workers get laid off, lab techs get cut back, clinic hours are reduced, nurses are forced to work unbelievably long hours (edging some into six-figure incomes because of the forced overtime). It’s frustrating.

      We have the layers of administration that we do to provide “deniability” for those at the top. It gives them the cover to claim not to know.

      I’ll add your idea to the topic list. Thanks.

      • Louise says:

        Since my first post the patient-to-nurse ratio at my hospital have reached levels that are quite frankly terrifying, and management has ignored all of our concerns, telling us to be positive. It’s hard to stay positive when you don’t have a chance to even talk to your patient because you are run off of your feet. Getting breaks, being able to have a drink of water, and use the bathroom are rarities. Most shifts leave the nurses close to tears. Nursing staff are speaking up and saying this is not right, not safe, unethical and our concerns are being brushed off.

        The number of sick calls are increasing daily as staff are getting burnt out, costing more money then if they would hire more staff to bring the patient load to a reasonable level. The excuse they give us is there is no funding to hire more staff, but we are being forced to take on more and more patients. It has reached the point many staff are considering leaving, and I personally have began looking at jobs in other provinces.

    • Crystal says:

      My husband just passed away.I noticed that in the Yarmouth ICU the nurses were responsible for more than 1 patient but when he was transferred to the QE11 it was 1 nurse to 1 patient ratio

  12. E.B. says:

    Mr Lynch – We are so very glad to hear of this blog and want to add to it. We have nothing to offer as to how to fix these problems, they are endemic. We can only offer our thoughts in the hope that someone will figure out how to fix this. Part of the reasons for the health care system being in such deplorable condition is that so few administrators know anything about the actual work involved in patient care, they only know their “book knowledge” or years of sitting at a desk.

    From many years of working in health care, not only is ageism a major problem (and it is huge, the elderly suffer needlessly, but what is happening over the past 20 years with mental health care is even worse), the entire system, from coast to coast, is rotting from the inside out, partly due to continued funding cuts without proper fund management, a near total loss of staff moral and care/compassion due to frustration with the inability to properly care for their patients because of the cuts – not enough staff per patient, more high needs patients, not enough and improper equipment and training, etc. Everyone working in the system knows what is happening and are therefore complicit in this vast coverup – people are dying, being ignored and abused, and used – as with the elderly – often as guinea pigs as it would not be questioned why a patient died because of their age. Records are being altered all the time to cover things up, and Accreditation Canada is a total farce as they arrive when expected and only view what the hospitals want them to view making them part of the smoke and mirrors that is being perpetrated on the general public.

    It is truly shocking and so very frightening what is happening.

    And why is no one blowing the whistle? – Not only are we all afraid of losing our jobs, we are so very, very afraid of what will be done to us (and our families) when we have to access health care – because we all know what is happening and how easy it is to cover it up.

    Everyone is turning a blind eye out of fear and it is getting worse by the day. Those few who still care are being overrun by the willing participants in the coverup and by their own real fears.

    • Thank you for taking the time to write. I think one of the telling results from the Accreditation Canada studies is the question: do you trust the organization you work for? In Nova Scotia only 48 to 50% of health care workers can say yes. The rest either say no or have no opinion. That is shocking, frightening and should not be acceptable for the public, politicians or administrators.

      What you are saying is what I hear over and over again from health care workers from doctors down. Maybe if enough say it it will resonate with those politicians who play ostrich and hide their heads in the sand when it comes to problems.

  13. E.B. says:

    I would also like to add that unions, once necessary, are now only protecting bad behaviours and making make-work projects. They too are part of the problem and therefore very involved with the massive cover-up of what is happening. And I don’t know if having digital files would stop the record altering and pilfering to hide the facts, but it would certainly make it much more difficult to do these outgrageous things while trying to cover one’s dirt.

    • You are not the first person to mention unions to me. Bad behaviour occurs among unionized and non-unionized people. There are times when I see a union rep appear on the news that it is difficult to have sympathy for them or what they say. But I can only suppose that their strident positions evolve out of the months of frustration trying to negotiate every aspect of a staffer’s work life and employment contracts with the health authorities who move at a glacial pace and who refuse to accept any thought that they could have done wrong. I suppose union negotiators have to take an extra hard line and push to get anything for their members. It’s all part of an expected dance both sides engage it. Good lord, 24-month union contracts in Nova Scotia have taken 23 months, two weeks to negotiate! That can’t all be the union’s fault. At Capital Health, for example, nurses are represented by two different unions. So a nurse on one floor can earn more than a nurse on another floor. That doesn’t make for an harmonious workplace.

      Having seen and having heard from various health care workers about their working conditions, I do believe unions are necessary. There has been and is a lot of vindictiveness in our health authorities. People are afraid to speak out for fear of losing their jobs. I have also been told of workplace bullying. I have been told of long-term maintenance staff who are praised one day and dismissed the next! Literally.

      While some people may see unions protecting bad behaviour, and no doubt they do, what has management done to alter bad behaviour or done to people who don’t do their jobs? Annapolis Valley Health had a problem with two staff in food services. Instead of speaking to those two staffers the authority made 40 people come to an evening meeting with Human Resources. That’s pay for 40 people for four hours plus mileage, rather than taking 15-20 minutes during the workday to speak to the problem employees. This doesn’t solve the problem, it builds resentment among all the others who are doing their job. This is yet another manifestation of weak management.

      In a perfect world, adults would know when they are under-performing. But for people don’t change their bad practices that’s why you have management. And when management is weak, or as is so often the case in Nova Scotia, disconnected, bad behaviour continues. These people in the executive suites are responsible for the problems. That includes poor employee performance. If we expect the front line care workers to do better we can’t take away union representation, we have to change those at the top who are failing to lead. When we have administrators who are effective and responsive that will trickle down and we will have less need for unions to be so demanding.

      • Louise says:

        The unions at my hospital have turned a blind eye to everything that has been going on. As far as filling out paperwork (incident reports, unsafe work reports, etc) it’s ignored, and problem employees and practices are not dealt with. Quite frankly I find my union useless.

  14. E.B. says:

    I spent 81 days in a large hospital in Nova Scotia. My two daughters provided a great deal of my care. I was treated like garbage, and the hospital was filthy (I am a retired nurse), as well as no one knew or understood the infection control practices, they all did something different, and we were met with such hostility when we asked simple things like that hands be washed before touching me.

    The longer I was in, the more the hostility grew because we dared to complain. It even went so far as to have nurses come in and turn my heat off – twice, and this was between Christmas and New Years, so it was cold. I could not get out of bed to turn it up and when I buzzed for assitance I was told “That’s what you get for wanting your bed moved.”

    I had requested that my bed be moved so I could see out the window – in a room where there were no other patients. Shame on me for making such an outrageous request. We waited for 5 days, and it was not done, on the 6th day, one of my daughters and her husband came in, and proceeded to do it, but were stopped because nurses did not want the clean bed touched. They did it and it took all of 5 minutes. But I was punished for that by having to go without heat. What sort of person would do such a cruel thing – someone working in health care? It boggles the mind what has happened, and what is going on, and that no one is doing anything about. That is so truly frightening.

    And I know my record was stripped and altered as well, we went through it several months after discharge. Pieces were missing, and pieces were falsified – for example – it was charted that they put a daily dressing on a bed sore they gave me (by not turning me – AND that was charted that they had been turning me every 2 hours. That was not done, again falsifying my record, my daughters were there a total of 12 hours a day and I was always flat on my back). The nurses in fact refused to put a dressing on this bedsore despite our requests because it was painful – they said it was better to leave it uncovered. They did nothing to stop it getting worse, like propping up with pillows. Again, my daughters did that.

    At least one is safer in a smaller hospital because people are less likely to behave so cruelly or so incompetently in front of people who know them.

    We complained through all the appropriate channels, during my time there, and after. It got no where. We complained to our provincial and federal ministers of health, MP’s and MLA’s for our home and for the district where the hospital was located. Nothing happened, nothing. We went to a lawyer and he said the best we could hope for was the hospital would receive a slap on the wrist for having an incomplete record.

    I also had a leg damaged during surgery, causing a compressed nerve, and discovered after discharge was that in the entire chart there was not a single piece of information from the time I went into the OR and got back to the floor – 7 hours later. They told us the records were lost. How convenient. My family pressed for a nerve conduction study, and we were lied to about the results – we did not know the actual result until we went through my chart after discharge. What they (a doctor – one from my surgical team, the unit nurse practitioner and two other nurses) told us about the results of this nerve conduction study was a complete fabrication – an obvious attempt to cover up what they had done to damage my leg. They said I had foot drop from laying on my back so long – but the damgage to my leg was obvious after only a few days on my back, so we knew something was amiss. Of course, we have no proof about what they said and so we asked if it was now necessary to have all conversations and actions video monitored for true patient safety – we got no answer to that.

    But, they could not strip the results from the nerve conduction study out of my chart as we could always go back to the physician who conducted it. It said the damage to my leg was from “periperative bandages being too tight” – not a mention about anything about my back.

    I have since refused to return to this hospital, and my family and I have heard many other horror stories since. The larger the hospital, the worse it seems. Good luck with this, I know many who now are refusing any health care, many. They prefer to take their chances with mother nature, and I do not blame them. I know you have a muchbetter chance of at least enjoying what time you do have left. Once they get at you, slice and dice, over medicate, or just plain ignore, you are much worse off than when you began.

    • E.B. gave me her name, but for the sake of her future care and the care of her family I have reduced it to initials.

      Even thought our experience was similar it is still disappointing to read of her experience in our health care system. And this woman was a nurse, so understands better than most of us how it should work. Were is the Premier, the Minister, her MLA and MP on this?

      What happens to one, is happening to others.

  15. E.B. says:

    In the 2nd last paragraph, it should be “peri-operative bandages.”

    Every day, my family and I hear more and more horror stories, but nothing is being done.

    We also hear more and more public statements about how health care is improving, from polliciticians and health care officials – are they lying or do they actually believe their own “spin doctors” – no pun intended. Do we need to see politicians actually victimized by the poor health care, or lawyers and their families, before anything will be done to fix the many things that are wrong? There is no more “care” in health care, and there is also a great deal of incompetence and lack of care or compassion, leading to injury and death. Again, very frightening.

    My entire family is now terrified to access health “care,” we now know, from the inside out, a great deal of what is happening. Some of my adult children work in health care, and we have a couple of friends who are doctors, who have discussed these issues privately.

    If you are older, you are toast, literally. Elderly are the least likely to complain, so treated the worst. I was told that is why it was charted that the nurses had done certain things like put a daily dressing on the bedsore they gave me, or turning me every two hours, they know our age group does not complain, and they only have the time and/or the inclination to chart the work, not do it. Morale is so poor, it is a huge part of the problem.

    Thank you for only posting my initials.

  16. E.B. says:

    I hope those guilty of the offences perpetrated upon me (and so many others) are reading this, including all those in the administrative end who did nothing when we complained to all the right people, they will recognize themselves, and perhaps realize that they too will be on that end of the stick some day, and then actually start the process to fix all that is wrong.

  17. woof says:

    I could be wrong but, RN’s and other staff aren’t required on site and aren’t paid when the ER depts and clinics are closed due to shortage of doctors or other essential staff (daily event in the valley). So this must save $1,000’s if not 1,000,000s of dollars annually for the authorities. Are the annual budgets of the authorities for the hospital/clinic operations (doctors, RNs, LPNs, reception, maintenance, etc.) calculated at the beginning of the fiscal year and if so, these situations should be creating surpluse monies for the clinics and ER depts. Oh, I forgot….the boardroom needs renovating.

  18. Brian B. says:

    I am conducting an Applied Research Project as part of the requirement for my MBA in Community Economic Development at Cape Breton University. I’ve chosen to examine the administration of health care in the Province looking specifically at the DHAs, their functions, costs and relationship with hospital and care facilities within the Districts, and with the government.

    If regionalization of health care is to continue to be the way ahead how can we do it better and more cost effectively? If a reduction in the number or size of DHAs can be realized, will a significant cost saving be realized that can then be utilized to improve health care and inspire community economic development in the province through an expanded requirement for additional medical and support personnel, and indirect employment opportunities?

    I’m open to comments and looking for reference material to expand my research base. Thanks much.

    • I don’t know that anyone has made the case for the status quo when it comes to the number of DHAs. Other provinces, on average, have one DHA for every million people. We have 10 (including the IWK).

      If we cut the number of DHAs down to one, we would not only be able to redirect more money to front-line professionals like doctors, nurses, technicians, etc. we would also have better utilization of resources. ORs wouldn’t sit empty when our surgical waiting lists are so long. And there wouldn’t be the competition for funding – the money would go to one pot and be spent where it was needed vs who made the better grant application.

  19. Bubbie says:

    On CTV’s W5 (Nursing home residents at risk: W5 investigation reveals startling national statistics

    Read more: http://www.ctvnews.ca/w5/nursing-home-residents-at-risk-w5-investigation-reveals-startling-national-statistics-1.1149215#ixzz2KSKtX51T)

    tonight with Sandy Renaldo it was reported that there are 10,000 acts of physical abuse committed in long term care facilities across Canada.

    The W5 study was first ever taken on elder abuse in long term care facilites.

    One family is looking for justice against a nursing home facility in Ontario where their husband/father was beaten severely in two different incidences by a fellow resident who was violent resulting in a near death situation.

    The man was only 68 years old and and in good health, physically. He died three months later and the family is blaming the beatings on his untimely death and the nursing home for not providing adequate protection for their husband/father. The family wants charges to be brought against the nursing home but the police, citing the nature of the incident and where it happened will not lay charges. The Minister of Health for the province of Ontario will only say that they recognize that this is unacceptable but their hands are tied and that they will make recommendations to take steps so that something like this is prevented in the future.

    As a caregiver that has been heavily involved with the health care system for the last ten years, I have been attending seminars, presentations and symposiums on elder abuse in long term care situations. Elder abuse has been declared an epidemic by all levels of government and steps have actually been taken in effort to protect the elderly. There are national and provincial acts that have been created to protect the elderly. They range from the National Health Care Act, the Persons in Care Act, the Hospital Act and the Nursing Home Act all designed to protect the elderly in long term care situations, whether in a nursing home or residing in their own homes. All of these acts lack the teeth to provide any protection for the elderly allowing long term care facilities to escape responsibility. !0,000 incidents of elder abuse and no one person or facility have ever been charged.

    There is something wrong with this picture. Just this past year there was an Incident in a local nursing home that resulted in direct death. The incident was declared a homicide but neither the nursing home nor the person causing the death was charged. It is my view that it is the lack of front line workers that is the main cause of so many incidents of elder abuse. The ratio of seven residents to one personal care worker is not enough to prevent violent acts by one resident on another. Often time this ratio can be fifteen to one. In the W5 report, very frequently it is ninety-nine to one.

    The main reason for the high ratios boils down to money because the facilities are for-profit and want to make as much money as possible by hiring the least amount of front line workers, placing the elderly residents at great risk for abuse and possible death. As long as governments look at abuse as individual cases nothing will be done to protect the most vulnerable segment of our society, the elderly. The family in the Ontario incident is pushing for justice and closure. I hope they get it.

    • I was beyond astonished by the W5 findings. I believe what they illustrate is the comfortable denial that health care in Canada has be able to get away with. Everything is treated as an abnormality, or a ‘one-off’. We’re lead to believe a mistake or lapse happens now and then. But when the hard light of reality is shone on our system we see how bad the situation is.

      In the past, families have suffered in silence or been marginalized and lead to believe they were really too grief struck to be rationale. But you know what? We know when something stinks. And this stinks so badly that someone better get off their ass, start doing what they pretend to be doing and start pressing charges. How can 10,000 deaths go un-prosecuted? Let the justice ministers defend that.

  20. Gina Sousa says:

    I found your blog very I important in a moment that Canada’s Health System is in great need of help.

    Unfortunately my husband had a bad experience. We did complaint to the College of Physicians, but the reply was obvious in support of the members. When we appealed to the Board of Appeal – Minsitry of Health Ontario, we had a hearing and we found out that the College of Physicians had an orthopedist, an anestheologist and a plastic surgeon reviewing the complaint.

    We were completely surprised because my husband’s ordeal started with a gallbladder surgey with complications that caused kidney failure. We thought that the College would have someone within the gallbladder and kidney expertise to evaluate the veracity of our claim. But we were more shocked when the Board of Appeal for the Ministry of Health Ontario a few weeks later sent us a letter saying that the College of Physicians decision was reasonable but we still could present the case to Judicial court!!

    Is this the protection patients have? Is this the support we can expect from our Health Minister?

    The fact his my husband is 58 years old and was a healthy man, with nothing more than gall stones. He is now undergoing a very strong treatment with immunosuppressants and he has not been the same. This happened in 2011 and took two years for us to receive this reply.

    We only wanted them to acknowledge that mistakes were made so they will not incurre in the same mistakes again.

    We didn’t contact any lawyer as we trusted the system will understand our complaints. But it seems that patients are not supposed to complain constructively for the better of the system.

    We the patients trust the system in the first place. We trusted the doctors, after all we are not doctors and therefore our life is in their hands. Is this fair? To whom can we complaint and who will hear us? We do not have private system, we all pay for a universal system that is failing to hear us. The sad reality is we have to continue living and just accept that the reality that in our health system complaint reviews are not taken seriously.

    I sincerely wish good luck to all the ones who need the system at any point in their lives.

    God bless you all.

    • I am sorry to read of your and your husband’s ordeal.

      The sad reality of our health care system is that it is less interested in learning from its mistakes than it is at avoiding lawsuits. They will not admit to errors, omissions, mistakes or shortcomings on any level. To do so, they believe puts them in legal jeopardy. They don’t get that we care more about our loved one than nailing them. And this is not a level playing field because the health side gets to use the public purse to pay for their defense, even when they are at fault.

      If you question anything, the hospital administration will tar you as being troublesome and do all they can to discredit you. Sunnybrook Hospital recently did that to the 60ish daughter of a 90-year-old vet living in their extended care wing. This woman, who for several decades has come daily to see her father, was suddenly labeled rude and troublesome and marched off the property and told she would be arrested if she returned. The cause of Sunnybrook’s action? She complained to staff about an elderly patient using a bedside table to hold himself up as we walked down a hallway and about bed bugs. Only when her story became national news did the hospital back down.

      As for the rest of us, any request for a second opinion is seen as an affront to the doctor on the case. In a small hospital or health authority, you won’t find anyone to provide that second opinion because they will face repercussions for daring to challenge the status quo – because any question is a threat to the status quo.

      Good luck. I wish I could be optimistic about your chance for the system to investigate itself.

  21. Dear Mr Lynch,
    According to CBC (Radio 1), the Premiers are considering cutbacks to diagnostic testing. Apparently the radiologists have concluded that 10% of tests are not necessary. While the radiologists might be correct, it still leaves the question as to how frequently a test should have been ordered when it wasn’t? If doctors err +/- by 10% then that is understandable, the practice of medicine is not so easy…

    None of the interviews I have listened to have considered the other possibility — that sometimes a necessary test might NOT have been ordered.

    I am bothered by this issue in several ways:
    (1) It is fundamentally dishonest (or intellectually inept) for radiologists/Premiers to consider the one possibility (ordering of an unnecessary test) without at the same time considering the other possibility (not ordering a necessary test).
    (2) CBC interviewers did not question the other side of the coin — demonstrating their mathematical ineptitude.
    (3) The Premiers and lab-technican’s/radiologists are unreasonably intruding on the doctor-patient relationship. Where does this end? If the Premiers and radiologists can’t trust the decisions made by Doctors and patients, why even bother having Doctors? I guess we should just line up to get our medical appointments with the Premier?

    • Thank you for bringing this up. I haven’t been able to closely follow what has been said at the Premier’s Conference..

      This is a really interesting issue especially for Nova Scotia which under-uses our diagnostic equipment. In Nova Scotia we use MRIs at a rate that is 15% below the national average. Our universal under-utilization of this equipment suggests the province has made a decision based on money, not medicine. And is this a false economy – do people get sicker because of undiagnosed illness?

  22. Pat Kipping says:

    How do I subscribe ?

  23. Mary McDaid says:

    There is a follow function that pops up in the bottom right when you are on the home page at
    https://helphealthcare.wordpress.com

  24. Mary McDaid says:

    If you are on a browser there is a link called “meta” bottom right. Under this section you can see a “register” section.

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