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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…)

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Ontario Budget Debate Ignores Taxes and Billions Transferred to For-Profit Corporations

Ontario’s budget debate may be high profile, but it misses two essential points.

With the NDP signaling NO TAX INCREASES (on the middle class) a serious discussion about taxes, particularly the need to increase corporate and wealth taxes, will not take place. It is hard to have any serious budget discussion without considering the income side. Many commentators have made this point.

At the same time, the expanding use of for-profit companies, often multinational conglomerates, to deliver and finance public services, is being ignored. The negative impact of private delivery on cost, quality, accessibility and democratic control of public services (Read more…)

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: More Local Lab Service Cuts

It seems that the government is now using changes in the OHIP fee schedule give more work to the for-profit laboratory corporations. This reduction in patient access is documented by Rita Marshall in the June 22 edition of the Mitchell Advocate. Mitchell is a town in the Municipality of West Perth near Stratford Ontario.

Don’t like the fact that Mitchell Family Doctors send patients out-of-town for blood work now? Blame the province, says the office.

“Blood work is an important diagnostic tool and we were pleased to provide that service to our patients so they did not have to leave

. . . → Read More: False positive: private profit in Canada’s health care: More Local Lab Service Cuts

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Medical Journal Kills For-Profit Lab Debate

I was surprised when the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) asked me to write an analysis piece on Canada’s medical laboratories. My book, False Positive, clearly lays out my position that for-profit labs have no place in our health care system, which is at odds with the close, and profitable, relationship between the labs and many doctors. And I am a well-known critic of private health care delivery in general, a policy option that doctors have often supported.

Regardless, I was interested because an article in the CMAJ would reach a different audience than I had already

. . . → Read More: False positive: private profit in Canada’s health care: Medical Journal Kills For-Profit Lab Debate

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Drummond and For-Profit Health Care

Considering the 1,500 dollars a day Don Drummond was paid and the research staff at his disposal you would figure that his analysis would be more subtle and better informed.

It is not news that Don Drummond supports for-profit health care but his rationale is shockingly simplistic. The following is the key paragraph from his report supporting more private health care:

There should not be an a priori or ideological bias towards public- or private-sector service delivery. Both options should be fully tested to see which provides the best service. This should not be defined simply with respect to cost, but

. . . → Read More: False positive: private profit in Canada’s health care: Drummond and For-Profit Health Care

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: Update on Thessalon and St. Joseph Island

The facts as we now know them:

Despite what the hospital web site says there are no lab facilities at the Mathews Memorial Hospital or the Thessalon Hospital. Neither has a laboratory license.

Blood is taken at these facilities by hospital staff and sent to the main lab at the Sault Area Hospital for processing.

Both hospitals have been taking blood from community patients for years under these conditions.

If there is now a concern about the legality of this service there is a simple solution: the Sault Area Hospital could apply for a specimen collection center license at the

. . . → Read More: False positive: private profit in Canada’s health care: Update on Thessalon and St. Joseph Island

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: LHINs Undercut Integration

Even though I have not met the CEO of the Sault Hospital in northern Ontario I expect he is an honorable person with a difficult task: to justify the unjustifiable. It is on his orders that the Thessalon Hospital and Mathew’s Memorial Hospital, small rural hospitals, closed their doors to the local community for blood taking. Residents now have to drive 85 kilometers to a for-profit specimen collection center in Sault Ste. Marie.

A column in the Sault Star reports that the CEO said that the Laboratory Licensing Act somehow restricts hospitals from collecting specimens from community patients.

. . . → Read More: False positive: private profit in Canada’s health care: LHINs Undercut Integration

False positive: private profit in Canada's health care: No Legal Requirement to Cut Lab Services

Residents around Thessalon and on St. Joseph Island, both east of Sault St. Marie in northern Ontario, have been recently told that their community hospitals will no longer be taking blood samples ordered by their family doctors. This follows a trend across Ontario to force all non-hospital patients to use for-profit laboratories, even if, as it is in the Algoma region, it is much more inconvenient for patients and more expensive.

The communications officer for the Sault Area Hospital, the mother ship of these two local hospitals, gave as the reason for cutting lab services that conditions of their laboratory’s

. . . → Read More: False positive: private profit in Canada’s health care: No Legal Requirement to Cut Lab Services