Are Canadian Doctors Ignoring Patients to Protect Big Oil?
Many Canadians don’t have aregular doctor Dobrow said the report raises important questions about the wide variations among provinces in areas such as access to after-hours care, emergency department wait times, affordability of care, co-ordination among care providers, and uptake of screening programs. “Do we have the rights goals for our system? Are we looking at better health, better care, better value for all Canadians?” he said. In September, the council suggested that provinces pay attention to issues such as leadership, having theright types of policies, and legislation and capacity building. For example, overall resources in primary care could be increased by expanding scopes of practice of somehealth professionals and improving their interdisciplinary training. At Toronto’s Wellpoint Clinic, the physicians changed to an “open access” system, meaning patients no longer make appointments weeks in advance. Exceptions include people who need to prebook wheelchair transit services or a physical checkup. “As physicians, we were worried that we would become inundated with patients on a daily basis,” said family physician Dr. Nandini Sathi. “In fact, what’s happened it’s opened up a little bit more time throughout the day for patients who need to be seen.” Previously, a non-urgent patient may have had to wait up to 10 days or sometimes longer if a doctor was on vacation. “Now it really is 48 hours,” Sathi said. More urgent care slots are also available.
117 get causes updates Imagine this: you get sick after eating at a local restaurant. You go to the doctor for help, but after learning the circumstances that led to your illness, the doctor refuses to offer a diagnosis or treatment advice. When pressed for an explanation, the doctor says he doesnt want to tarnish the restaurants reputation. Most of us would consider that scenario outrageous and a complete violation of a doctors sworn duty, but its happening and on a much more life-threatening scale in Canada. According to areport prepared by Dr. Margaret Sears , an Ottawa-based PhD who specializes in toxicology and public health, doctors have refused to care for local residents who complain that emissions from local tar sands operations are making them sick. In 2011, Baytex Energy, a company that cooks tar sandsbitumen in above-ground tanks to extract oil, purchased almost four dozen oil wells in the Alberta area.According to PriceofOil.org, thats about the time local residents started complaining about serious symptoms, such as severe headaches, dizziness, sinus problems, vomiting, muscle spasms and fatigue, amongst others. When visiting their local doctors, residents often correlated the symptoms with thepowerful, gassy smells coming from the Baytex operation, a dangerous association that seems to have spooked the medical community. In the report, co-authored by Sears,researchers note that, Physician care was refused and that analytical services were refused by an Alberta laboratory when told that the proposed analysis was to investigate exposure to emissions related to bitumen extraction. Sears concludes that doctors reluctance stems from a lack of information about environmental health but also from a troubling history of perceived retribution for speaking out against oil developments in Canada, reports Al Jazeera . Tar sands and fracking are the hot button issues for the fossil fuel industry right now, but one cant deny that weve seen a similar situation play out before with coal and were still paying the penalties of inaction. Thanks to decades of allowing coal miners and coal-fired power plants to operate with little accountability for pollution, thousands of Americans have suffered negative health effects. In a 2010 report titled The Toll of Coal [PDF], the Clean Air Task Force linked power plant pollution to 13,200 premature deaths that year. It also estimated that coal pollution contributes to9,700 hospitalizations and more than 20,000 heart attacks per year. In 2011, a Harvard Medical School study foundhealth costs due to air pollution from coal power plants total around $187 billion per year , and thats not even including the intangible cost of what coal waste is doing to the nations drinking water . Obviously, the oil and gas industry has learned a lot from its buddy Big Coal, and its doing whatever it can to discourage doctors from admitting that these toxic fumes can have a negative impact on public health. Communications with public health officials and medical professionals revealed a universal recognition that petrochemical emissions affect health; however, this was countered by a marked reluctance to speak out, writes Sears in the report, citing past examples of attacks on doctors who sound the alarm. According to the Edmonton Journal , Sears will get the chance to present her findings about health impacts and doctor intimidationat an upcoming local hearing into complaints about emissions from the Baytex oilsands operation.