False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Laboratory Services Expanded in Huntsville and Bracebridge Hospitals: Point of Care Testing Fails to Meet Expectations

Muskoka Algonquin Healthcare (MAHC) has restored a regular night shift in its medical laboratories at the Huntsville and Bracebridge hospitals. This is a victory for viable community hospitals. It is also another example of the chaos caused by the government’s artificial prohibition on hospital labs performing medical laboratory work for community patients, for example, patients of family doctors.

The Huntsville and Bracebridge sites were on the cusp of a mini trend among small hospitals in Ontario replacing some in-hospital laboratory services with point-of-care-testing (POCT).* After two years’ experience the MAHC is reversing this policy and reinstating a regular laboratory (Read more…)

OPSEU Diablogue: Another home care strike looms as $1.1 million CEO offers workers less than inflation

This is starting to look like a pattern: another home care employer, another offer that has angered workers and led to another strike vote. This time it’s both nursing and personal support workers in Renfrew County who are employees of … Continue reading

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Fragmentation, Private Profit and Home Phlebotomy

Every day there are stories of how the fragmentation of health care hurts patients.  A few, when a patient dies, make the media.  Most often fragmentation causes small inconveniences, but there are many and they affect patients in very real ways.

December 19th’s story is about a patient with a serious chronic illness.  She lives at home and manages her illness fairly well.  Monitoring her condition requires weekly blood work which is taken by a home care nurse through a PIC line, a semi-permanent intravenous access port. She then walks the blood a fairly (Read more…)

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Response to Toronto Star Pro For-Profit Clinic Opinion Piece

On December 10, Rick Janson, Campaigns Officer, Ontario Public Service Employees Union, published the following post in response to an opinion piece in the Toronto Star:

Who should you trust? Former PC advisor shills in the Star for private health care

Francesca Grosso says she is an established expert in health care policy. A former PC health care policy director, her day job these days is a principal at Grosso McCarthy, a public affairs company for hire… continued at

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False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Will That Be Raspberries With Your Rectal?

The changing face of primary care is on special at Loblaws’.  Primacy, a for-profit chain of primary care clinics, has 112 outlets in Loblaw Stores. Most Loblaws’ also have in-store pharmacies.  The synergies are obvious.  Primacy’s web site says, “an on-site pharmacy provides expert advice and services to our patients.”  A recently signed preferred pharmacy agreement organized by international professional services company Towers Watson is also designed to boost pharmacy sales; and presumably traffic to the Primary clinics, and Loblaws’ vegetable aisles. The preferred pharmacy agreement aims to reduce drug plan costs for the companies covered.  A win-win for Towers (Read more…)

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Privatising Preventive Care – the For-Profit Flu Fight

Flu season is upon us, and it seems that the for-profit-health-care bug is infecting primary and preventative care.  The yearly campaign to increase the number people vaccinated against the flu is coordinated by the public sector though the Ministry of Health and Public Health Units.  After that it gets a bit murky.

Large multinational pharmaceutical companies produce the vaccine.  GlaxoSmithKilne Inc. is Canada’s largest supplier.  Putting the vaccine in the people’s arms has been primarily done by small family practice professionals or public health nurses.  To meet the challenge of increasing immunization rates – over 40% (Read more…)

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: The Risks of For-Profit Community Care

With the sale of the Shouldice Clinic to a health care conglomerate it is useful to review some of the literature comparing for-profit hospitals to non-profit hospitals. The results show that:

1)      there is a higher risk of death in for-profit hospitals, http://www.cmaj.ca/content/166/11/1399.full :

2)      private for-profit hospitals result in higher payments for care than private not-for-profit hospitals,  http://www.cmaj.ca/content/170/12/1817.full, and:

3)      on average, not-for-profit nursing homes deliver higher quality care than do for-profit nursing homes,  http://www.bmj.com/content/339/bmj.b2732.abstract.

These studies stand-out because of their very large sample sizes.  (Read more…)

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Missed Opportunity: Corporate Conglomerate Buys Shouldice Center

The Ontario Government has missed an opportunity with the sale of the Shouldice Clinic to health care conglomerate, Centric Health.  The government could have purchased Shouldice and integrated its services into the public health care system: after all, Shouldice was funded from the public purse.

A good comparator for the missed opportunity is the Kensington Eye Centre, a stand-alone non-profit facility which specializes in eye care. It has become an example of how specialized care can be given within the public system when there is sufficient demand for similar procedures.

Shouldice was established before Medicare and, like many other Continue reading

OPSEU Diablogue: Fun with funding – for profit “envelope” gets biggest share of increase

Provincial long-term care funding is delivered to Ontario’s nursing homes bundled in what the Ministry likes to call “envelopes.” These figures are allocated for each resident under care. There is an envelope for nursing and personal care, another for program … Continue reading

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: GlaxoSmithKline Sets Record with 3 Billion Dollar Fine

And the list goes on.  It is no secret that many for-profit health companies in the United States are regularly fined for various forms of fraud, usually cheating Medicare or Medicaid, or jeopardizing patients’ health, or both.  This is the second big one I have read about this  week, the other being cardiac surgeons working for the hospital chain HCA performing unnecessary procedures on up  50%  of patients.

The lower level of for-profit involvement in Canada’s health care system has meant less blatant fraud, though there have been prosecutions and legions of questionable practices involving private companies ‘bonusing’ doctors Continue reading

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Public Pay Public Benefits

The new graphic beside this post features logos from five corporations delivering essential medical services in Canada. The represent the reality of a broad range of for-profit companies benefiting from public payment for health services:the new focus of this blog.

For the last year I have written on for-profit delivery in Canada’s medical laboratory services. While this interest will continue, example after example illustrate the continuing threat of private laboratory companies to accessibility and sustainability of health care, they are only part of the problem. The companies depicted in the new graphic indicate the breadth of the private threat.

CML Health Care is one Continue reading