Friday, September 28, 2007

Halifax pharmacy researcher explores medication errors in Canada

It’s the fourth leading cause of death among North Americans and costs billions of dollars each year in unnecessary health expenses, just for Canadian seniors alone. A Dalhousie University researcher is tackling the widespread issue of medication errors, and his efforts have landed him a prestigious international opportunity.

Dr. Neil J. MacKinnon has been selected as a 2007 Harkness Associate, a fellowship administered by the U.S. Commonwealth Fund and the Canadian Health Services Research Foundation. The Harkness program is limited to 13 individuals worldwide each year, including a maximum of two Canadians.

Dr. MacKinnon will embark on a major study to determine whether government and private payer drug policies improve safety and quality or unintentionally contribute to the problem of medication mistakes.

“There are obviously many benefits to medication, which can often replace surgery or greatly improve a patient’s quality of life,” says Dr. MacKinnon, associate director for research and associate professor at Dalhousie’s College of Pharmacy.

But the health care system is so complex, there are inevitably gaps in the process, he adds. These might include an incorrect diagnosis, insufficient lab work or a lack of patient monitoring. Surprisingly, a major barrier to proper medication in Canada is access – many people can’t afford it, and end up splitting tablets and reducing dosages without informing their doctors or pharmacists. Resulting problems from medication errors, such as adverse drug reactions, are the fourth-leading cause of death in Canada and the U.S.

One of his main research efforts is an examination of the many points of transfer in patient care. When patients are admitted to a nursing home or discharged from a hospital, a number of people and steps are involved in the transfer of their medications: nurses, physicians, order clerks, pharmacists, pharmacy technicians, the patients and their family doctors.

“The biggest red flags are those transition points,” says Dr. MacKinnon. “There could be 15 or more different handoffs between when the medication order is written by the physician and the time the patient actually puts the first pill in his or her mouth.”

He cites his 2005 study that found discrepancies in one out of every 11 medication orders at a Halifax hospital. In another one of his studies, one patient with multiple medication errors had 46 unnecessary emergency room visits in a nine-month period. In yet another of his studies, 519 seniors with thyroid conditions were taking their prescriptions properly, but weren’t having lab work done to monitor their thyroid levels, and ended up in emergency rooms or were hospitalized as a result.

“A lot of the solutions aren’t horribly complicated; it’s simply a matter of a phone call or a fax, and better communication,” says Dr. MacKinnon. He outlines a number of useful strategies for front-line health care professionals and scholars in a new book he edited, Safe and Effective: The Eight Essential Elements of an Optimal Medication-Use System, released last month in Ottawa.

Dr. MacKinnon teaches at Dalhousie, where he is a faculty member in the College of Pharmacy, the Faculty of Medicine’s Department of Community Health & Epidemiology, and the School of Health Services Administration.

Health Literacy Conference call for presentations

Time sensitive

Institute for Healthcare Advancement's 7th Annual Health Literacy Conference: "Health Literacy in Primary Care: Best Practices and Skill Building" to be held May 1-2, 2008

Scheduled Keynote Speaker: Richard H. Carmona, M.D., M.P.H., FACS, The 17th Surgeon General of the United States (2002-2006).

Call for Presentations Issued-- Deadline for submissions is October 1, 2007.

Using stories to facilitate family centred care education

Family Centred Care Learning Vignettes is a new resource produced by the Southern Alberta Family & Community Resource Centre. Available in PDF format, the 178 page document capitalizes on the power of story in communication and learning.

From the Preface:
"The cornerstone of family centred care is real partnerships between children, youth, families, staff, professionals, and health organizations. ... We build on the strengths and knowledge of families and make programs and services better by working together." (p. ii)

Themes include:

* Communication
* Roles
* Collaboration
* Information Sharing
* Support
* Patient Safety
* System Policies and Procedures
An appendix includes the full transcripts of "family, Child and Youth interviews."

Interviews addressed four questions:

  1. What do children and families want to tell health care professionals?
  2. What worked well in their patient, their child's or their sibling's health care experience?
  3. What could have gone better?
  4. What are their ideas and suggestions for improvement?

View or download the Family Centred Care Learning Vignettes from the Southern Alberta Child & Youth Health Network website.

Friday, September 21, 2007

We're 30 this year!


The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD) turns 30 this year! Help us celebrate 30 years of advocacy by purchasing a T-shirt, mousepad, cap, coaster, button, bag, greeting card or even a T-shirt for your dog--all with our terrific anniversary logo by artist Carol Weaver! Don't miss out on this great look and an opportunity to support the work of BCCPD!

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

BC Epilepsy Society support groups

The BC Epilepsy Society Fall 2007 newsletter announces adult support groups throughout the province.

"We offer opportunities for people living with epilepsy and their families and friends to get better connected and strengthen their support networks. People come together and talk about their issues and share experiences to better understand how to access services and resources and live a better life with epilepsy. Topics cover driving, parenting, medications and anything else that participants need help with."

To join one of the following groups or to start a new support group in your area, contact Elvira or Kathryn at the BC Epilepsy Society office. Phone 604-875-6704 or toll free: 1-866-EPILEPSY (374-5377). Visit the website at

Comox Valley Group
Comox Valley Nursing Centre
961 England Avenue, Courtenay
Third Monday of the month at 7:00 pm
Phone Jackie at 250-338-1711

Prince George Group
Second Tuesday of the month 7:00-9:00 pm
Phone Gord or Karen at 250-562-6296

Chilliwack Open Adult Group
Third Thursday of the month
Phone Richard at 604-795-3089

Lower Mainland Adult Group
First Thursday of the month, 7:00-9:00 pm
Call 604-875-6704
#510 - 999 Weswt Broadway, Vancouver

Monday, September 17, 2007

Autism Community Training Workshops

Time sensitive

ACT Autism Community Training Workshop announcements from
Fall - Winter Event Update
Selected workshops below. See website for complete listing of workshops

Bursaries: ACT has bursaries available for low-income registrants and those traveling from outside their home region. For more information contact us at or 604-205-5467 or toll-free at 1-866-939-5188.

Information and Support: ACT offers extensive support and information on autism related topics through our office both by telephone and email. Contact us at 604-205-5467 or toll-free at 1-866-939-5188.

The Art of Advocacy for Parents of Children with Special Needs
October 27, 2007 - Prince George / February 16, 2008 - Surrey /
March 1, 2008 - Nanaimo / April 5, 2008 - Castlegar

Clair Schuman E.D., ACT - Autism Community Training

Many parents are confused and frustrated by the complexities of systems they must navigate to find help for their child with special needs. This workshop offers parents an overview of how to develop skills they need to navigate successfully through the hurdles they may sometimes encounter. Using the school system as an example, parents are guided through the components of empowerment necessary to become an effective advocate for their child. Specific guidelines and tips will be provided in this positive, practical, user-friendly and interactive seminar. This workshop is not disability specific but will be especially helpful for parents of children with
"invisible" disabilities.

Early Bird Deadlines September 28, 2007 - Prince George / January
11, 2008 - Surrey / January 25, 2008 - Nanaimo / February 27, 2008 - Castlegar
Information and registration form:

Transitioning from High School to Work - Preparing Students with Autism for Adulthood
January 12, 2008 - Nanaimo / March 8, 2008 - Surrey

Vicki Lundine, M.Ed., & Catherine Smith, M.Ed.

The emphasis on transition from high school to work is a focus in Grades 10-12 but the process should begin much earlier for students with ASD. Attitudes toward work combined with decisions we make for children with autism can significantly influence the path they may
choose to follow. The workshop will define the roles and responsibilities for individuals supporting students as they mature, including parents, and will provide participants with information and strategies which help promote meaningful participation for
students with ASD in the work world.

Early Bird Deadlines November 30, 2007 - Nanaimo / January 25, 2008 - Surrey
Information and registration form:

An Introduction to Autism Treatment - A Case Management Survival Guide for Parents & Community Professionals
September 29, 2007 - Prince George / October 27, 2007 - Gibsons / January 30, 2008 - Vancouver

Jill Calder, M.D. Clinical Director of Rehabilitation Services, Thompson Cariboo Shuswap Region

Dr. Calder provides important insights on how parents can develop their skills as knowledgeable team leaders for their child's intervention program - a case management approach. With a decade of experience parenting her own son with autism, Dr. Calder builds on her expertise as a respected rehabilitative medicine specialist and combines this with her own practical grasp of autism treatment. Her focus is on how parents can learn to manage their child's treatment.

Early Bird Deadline October 4 - Gibsons / Regular Rate Deadline September 21 - Prince George
Information and registration form:

Self Help Resource Association of BC Fall Workshops

Time Sensitive

Self Help Resource Association of BC (SHRA) Fall Workshops

  1. Grassroots Facilitator Training Oct 26, 27 & Nov 2 & 3
  2. Youth Facilitate This! Advanced Nov 1, 8, 22 & 29
  3. Youth Service Provider Training Nov 27
Grassroots Facilitator Training
October 26, 27, November 2, & 3
9:00 am to 4:30 pm
SHRA Boardroom #306 - 1212 West Broadway, Vancouver BC

Grassroots Facilitation Training Workshops are hands-on capacity-building sessions designed to help people develop and practice the skills needed to organize and maintain successful and productive small groups. SHRA facilitators accommodate those who wish to facilitate groups as well as group members who want to participate more effectively.

Information & registration: call 604-733-6186 or email

Youth Facilitate This! Advanced
November 1, 8, 22 & 29 2007
Broadway Youth Resource Centre
9:00 am to 4:00 pm each day

This four-day training is for youth facilitators with some experience, looking to brush up on their facilitation and youth engagement skills. This is an opportunity to practice techniques you already know, pick up some new (and really fun!) activities, and learn collaboratively from your peers.

All participants must complete Day One as a pre-requisite for Days 2, 3 or 4.
Registration for all four days is STRONGLY encouraged.

Day One - Theory and Practice
Day Two - Tools of the Trade
Day Three - Group Process
Day Four - Stop, Drop and Deal: The Art of Being in the Moment

Information & registration: call 604-733-6186 or email

Youth Service Provider Training
November 27, 2007
Broadway Youth Resource Centre

Research shows us that youth approach other youth first for information and support. This interactive training is for adults who work with youth and want to more effectively engage young people while creating and strengthening peer support in the youth communities they serve. Discover a variety of approaches for engaging youth and building trust in your groups. Come to share best practices and discuss issues affecting your work and to have some fun!

Information & registration: call 604-733-6186 or email

Friday, September 14, 2007

Reading service for low vision seniors in Vancouver

The 411 Seniors Centre Society in Vancouver now offers "a new service for people who are blind or have low vision. A volunteer is available to read aloud letters, forms, invoices and other correspondence for seniors who are unable to do so themselves... The service is currently available on an on-call/as-needed basis."

To access the service, contact Carol Lloyd at 604-684-8171

From: 411 Seniors Centre Society News & Views newsletter August-September 2007

BC Seniors Advocacy Network (BC SAN)

The BC Seniors Advocacy Network offers volunteer advocates who "support vulnerable seniors dealing with complex situations including: the quality of long-term care, situations of abuse, accessing services and supports to live in the community, etc. If you are a senior dealing with a difficult situation and are not sure what to do next or where to go, [BC SAN] trained advocates are willing to provide free supports to help you."

From: 411 Seniors Centre Society News & Views newsletter August-September 2007

New volunteers are being recruited and trained. Contact Gregg Schiller, BC SAN Project Coordinator (located at the 411 Seniors Centre Society, 411 Dunsmuir Street, Vancouver BC). Phone Gregg at 604-684-8171, extension 239 or email

Loss of 'the self' in Acquired Brain Injury: panel presentation in Victoria

Time sensitive: October 24, 2007

"A panel presentation exploring the loss of "the self" as experienced by Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) survivors and caregivers of persons living with ABI is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, October 24th at 12:00 noon in the Victoria General Hospital Theatre in Victoria, BC. The presentation is open to survivors, family members, service providers and medical personnel."

from: headline: British Columbia's Voice for the Brain Injury Community Fall 2007

Brain Injury Trauma Recovery & Growth Groups: Victoria

Time sensitive: Fall 2007

Survivors of Brain Injury
Caregives (spouses, parents & adult children)

"12 week guided mutual aid group provides a supportive environment where you will learn more about emotional recovery from trauma.

The group fosters, supports, encourages and promotes emotional healing and psychological growth following brain injury and other traumas.

In this model, a skilled and experienced counsellor and a peer co-facilitator, who is a survivor or 26 years, work together adding an important dimension to the group experience."

Contact Ellen Connell, RCC, CCRC, MA
Phone 250-385-6578

Celebrate International Health Literacy Month: 2007 Access to Health Awards

Time sensitive: Nominations close October 31, 2007

Each October, the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities’ Health Literacy Network celebrates International Health Literacy Month. We ask people with disabilities throughout BC to tell us about health care workers and community agency staff who have ‘gone the extra mile’ for you. Based on your stories, we give an Access to Health award to two individuals and an “Honourable Mention" to ten more. It’s your chance to say “Thank you!” to people who make a difference in your life!

Why people are nominated
Here are some quotes from nominations in past years:

“I was always respected. Working with her renewed my confidence and my spirits and because of her assistance I am able to think about my future.”

[She] “is a great social worker and has helped change my life!”

“If you are not “quite yourself,” he wants to know what is wrong, personally or medically.”

“…She has helped me in small ways like relocating my service dog’s dish to a classroom where it will not get tipped over as often … and in bigger ways like getting me a key for the elevator so I can get to the classroom whenever the building is open.”

“She makes my life easier. [She] is very understanding about what I have to deal with. She is a very respectful person…”

[She] “made me feel supported when I felt alone and distressed.”

[He] “is a physician of splendid integrity. He treats me as a whole person. He tries to educate me and broaden my mind and gives me any information I need to improve my health.”

Tell us your choice for the 2007 awards! Here’s what you need to do ...

  • Read the Access to Health award guidelines carefully
  • You must be a person with a disability
  • You must live in BC
  • Complete a nomination form (or call Shelley to nominate by phone)
  • Send your nominations by 4:30 pm October 31, 2007

Contact Shelley at the Health Literacy Network if you have questions. Phone 604-875-0188 (TTY 604-875-8835) or call toll-free and leave a message at 1-877-232-7400.

Please help us spread the word by forwarding the Access to Health Awards poster to your friends, colleagues and mailing lists.
Download the Access to Health award guidelines
Download the Access to Health award nomination form

Learn more about International Health Literacy Month, including how people around the world are celebrating by visiting the website.

Community Brain Injury Program for Children & Youth event

Time sensitive: Registration deadline September 28, 2007

The Community Brain Injury Program for Children & Youth,
BC Centre for Ability
10th Anniversary Celebration presents
Innovative Evidence-based Interventions for Individuals with ABI
Friday, October 12, 2007
Vancouver Marriott Pinnacle Hotel
1128 West Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC

featuring Dr. Roberta DePompei
Professor and Clinical Supervisor at the University of Akron, Ohio. She has conducted leading edge research on the impact of assistive technology for people with acquired brain injury and on the reintegration of children and youth with brain injuries into home, school and community.

Morning session: 9:00-12:00
Students with TBI: Recognizing and Treating Cognitive-communicative Behaviours that Affect Learning

Afternoon session:
1:00-2:15 pm - The Use of Personal Data Assistants for Persons Who Have ABI/Cognitive Challenges
2:30-4:00 pm - The Research and Best Practices for Youth: Transitions to the Adult World

$85.00 Full day
$50.00 Half day
Registration deadline September 28, 2007

Contact Dinali de Fonseka
phone 604-451-5511, ext. 238

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Prescription labels geared toward pharmacies, not patients

The labels on most prescription drug containers highlight the pharmacy’s name or logo rather than instructions on how to take the medication, reports a new study in the September 10th issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine.

In the US, the Food and Drug Administration has some standards on what prescription labels must include, but few regulations guide the format of the information, said lead author William Shrank, M.D., of Brigham and Women’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School.

In the study, six pharmacies in four cities filled identically written prescriptions for four commonly prescribed medications. The pharmacies included the two largest chains, two grocery stores and two independent pharmacies.

Researchers evaluated 85 labels. They found the pharmacy name or logo was the most prominent item on 84 percent of the labels, with an average 13.6-point font size. By comparison, the instructions averaged a 9.3-point size and medication names averaged an 8.9-point font. Warning stickers were in a much smaller, 6.5-point font on average.

“Medical education guidelines explicitly suggest that font size must be 12 point or larger to optimize patients’ ability to read health information,” according to the authors.

All of the labels listed the pharmacy name first, and instructions appeared fifth on 89 percent of labels. When color font or boldface was present, it was most often for pharmacy information rather than for instructions or warnings.

The authors suggest that one way to improve readability and patient understanding of labels is for FDA to initiate a national standard for their format and content—much like it did with the “Nutrition Facts” labels required on food packaging.

Jennifer Athay, a staff pharmacist with the American Pharmacists Association, said, "Logistically, there is no way to get all the information someone needs to know on a little prescription bottle or tube. Size tends to be an issue, so the complete information you need to know is dispensed in the extra paperwork you get from the pharmacists.” She added that patients should ideally get detailed information when physicians first prescribe the medication to them.

Shrank WH, et al. The variability and quality of medication container labels. Arch Intern Med 167(16), 2007

New diabetes e-newsletter

The Canadian Diabetes Association is launching a NEW e-newsletter, Diabetes Current, in September 2007.

"Through this new online service, you can stay up to date on our organization and diabetes - including the latest news of research and medical breakthroughs, profiles on people who make a difference, and tips for healthier living."

"As well, the e-newsletter will keep you abreast of what's happening across Canada and in your own backyard. Each month you will be on top of local and upcoming events and fundraisers."

You can customize your subscription for the following regions:
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia Ontario - Central East (Barrie, Peterborough)
Ontario - Central South (Hamilton, St. Catharines, Niagara-on-the-Lake)
Ontario - Central West (Kitchener-Waterloo, Guelph)
Ontario - Eastern (Ottawa, Pembroke)
Ontario - GTA (Toronto, Mississauga, Newmarket, Oshawa)
Ontario - North East (Sudbury, Sault Ste. Marie)
Ontario - North West (Thunder Bay)
Ontario - South East (Kingston, Belleville)
Ontario - South West (London, Windsor, Sarnia)
Pacific (BC, Yukon)
Prince Edward Island
Saskatchewan and

Subscribe at:

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

New group for LGTB people with developmental disabilities

Time sensitive

The (LGTB) Centre and Shade Consulting Ltd. present a new monthly social support group for Lesbian, Gay, Transgender, Bisexual People with Developmental Disabilities

Co-facilitated by Margaret Newbury Jones & Alan Steen

Margaret Newbury Jones operates SHADE Consulting Ltd. and specializes in working with people with disabilities and unique learning needs around sexual health. She is a teacher by training and has worked in the disability field for over 20 years.

Alan Steen is a registered social worker with experience working with people with developmental disabilities and extensive experience as a volunteer counsellor for LGTB people.

the third Thursday of every month
6:30 – 8:30 pm
Starts Thursday, Sept 20th

3727 Renfrew Street (at 22nd Ave)

social, supportive & safe environment
wheelchair accessible space

Transit information:
Option 1: Renfrew Skytrain Station and then take the #16 (29th Avenue station) bus, get off at 22nd Avenue
Option 2: 29th Avenue Station and then take #16 (Arbutus) bus, get off at 22nd Avenue
Option 3: Wheelchair/mobility friendly route Nanaimo Station and then take the #25 (Brentwood), get off at Renfrew Street

If you or someone you know is interested in this group, please contact:
Chris at 604-684-8449 or email or
Margaret at 604-434-9579 or email

Mood disorder information session for Punjabi-speakers

Time Sensitive

Dr. Nirmal Kang, Psychiatrist and Dr. Rajpal Singh, Psychologist will speak at an information session for Punjabi-speaking people with a mood disorder and their family members

Sunday, Sept. 16, 2007
5:00 PM
The Days Inn – Surrey, BC
9850 King George Highway

For more information contact Mood Disorders Association of BC (MDA):
phone: 604-873-0103 or

Friday, September 07, 2007

New booklet from BCCPD: "Know about Keeping Your Body Safe"

The BC Coalition of People with Disabilities' Wellness & Disability Initiative/AIDS & Disability Action Program have published a new booklet in the Know about series. Developed specifically for people with cognitive disabilities, Know about Keeping Your Body Safe emphasizes the different levels of social connection and appropriate touching. It also provides opportunities to practice certain behaviours which are an important part of learning how to make better choices and “keep our bodies safe.”

The booklet comes with a Caregiver Companion Guide, which provides suggestions for using the booklet, a Relationship Ripples sheet (8.5 x 11 inches) with instructions for consumers using the booklet, and a Relationship Ripples poster (11 x 17 inches).

Other titles in the Know about series include:

  • Know about HIV and AIDS
  • Know about Condoms
  • Know about Safer Sex
  • Know about Seniors and HIV
  • Know about Communicating with Your Doctor (uses sexual health examples)
  • Also available: HIV/AIDS Prevention Resources for Educators: Reaching Students with Special Learning Needs (quarterly newsletter) and Tips for Living Well (quarterly newsletter).
To order free samples of any of our publications, please email or phone 604-875-0188. You may also fax your request to 604-875-9227.

BC Schizophrenia Society offers translated materials

The British Columbia Schizophrenia Society offers fact sheets about schizophrenia in Bengali, Chinese, Hindi, Punjabi, Spanish, and Urdu. Information in French is available through a link to La Société Québécoise de la Schizophrénie website.

To view these fact sheets and to access other information about schizophrenia, support and activities in BC, vist the the BC Schizophrenia Society website at