Category Archives: News

MEDICAL PRACTICE & LASER THERAPY – REFLECTIONS

07/23/13

Today, it is of the ultimate importance that healthcare professionals have an overview of medicine as practiced internationally − not just as it is practiced in Canada. Around the world, it has been demonstrated that governments and medicine seldom mix. Accordingly, all healthcare professionals, particularly physicians, must be independent practitioners who have only the best interests of the patient at heart and must therefore focus their efforts on this objective.

Unfortunately, system administrators seem to sprout ever enlarging bureaucracies often advised by physicians who are motivated by exercising political clout and their own pecuniary interest, rather than the welfare of patients.

Pharmaceutical companies, with their extensive lobbies and the support of government bureaucracies, are primarily driven to generate profits but nevertheless exert an excessive and unwarranted degree of influence in formulating healthcare policies, extending even to the educational process.

Insurance companies, as is increasingly evident, again are economically oriented and pose one of the most pernicious influences in healthcare today. Claims adjusters and low-level administrators frequently impose incredible hardship on patients desperately in need of funds to pay for both their specialized and routine health care, for which they have contributed premiums over many years.

The combination of gatekeepers consisting of governments, HMOs, Wall Street corporations, etc., further muddy the waters. There is no clarity existing with all the vested economic interests that at this point almost totally control healthcare delivery systems, whether in England, Cuba, Canada or Sweden.

In many instances, unfortunately, no healthcare at all may be preferable to what is actually provided. For example, wounds secondary to diabetes, atherosclerosis, and other etiological factors often show rapid improvement with simple elevation of the extremity and saline compresses to the wound 24/7, as compared to the utilization of multiple dressings, antibiotics and analgesics that are provided in such abundance, accompanied by rising costs. All too often, the latter approach leads to the eventual amputation of the afflicted limb.

Does anyone really care about these issues? Not as long as the care provided is perceived to be ‘free’. And what of the latter fact? A perfect excuse to levy more taxes, to expand the bureaucracy and order more diagnostics and consumables, all excluding the most important item – the correct therapy designed to cure the patient’s problem.

To elaborate on the insurance situation: each day, we see new patients at our clinics and invariably, at least initially, the priority item they wish to discuss is their insurance plight – rather than their medical condition. These patients rant on about how the insurance companies keep reneging on the promise to pay for their care. How can you blame them? This premise, after all, is why they bought insurance in the first place.
I recently uploaded on my blog the story of one particular family which serves as an excellent example of this growing problem. The husband was severely injured in an automobile accident over five years ago and has been unable to work since. The couple went broke paying their medical bills and were recently evicted from their home. Several insurance policies had been purchased by this individual, who owned a number of businesses that were thriving prior to the accident. Financial failure ensued after the trauma as the wife was busy taking care of her husband and two children and could not continue to manage their affairs.

Over five years later, the insurance companies are still fighting about who should pay for what. Anyone familiar with this paradigm knows that it can go on for many years, or at least until the patient expires.

At the same time, insurance companies spend considerable funds on diagnostics and these are seldom questioned, no matter how expensive they may be. They also spend unlimited funds carrying out assessments, investigations, etc., which allow them to renege on claims, aided and abetted by a hoard of assessors, bought and paid for by the carrier. The latter almost invariably find that there is no objective evidence to substantiate the disputed claim.

As for pharmaceuticals, these in many instances confer significant benefit. For example, insulin, thyroxin, cortisone, and analgesics, along with many other drugs, provide viable solutions – primarily in the short term, although often only by masking symptoms. Furthermore, drugs do have limitations and can produce adverse effects. In some instances, the latter may be significant. However, because the pressing need for these medications may override the objection to prolonged use, dependence becomes ‘justifiable’. That is certainly the case with diabetes and insulin, ACTH for adrenal insufficiency, thyroxin for hypothyroidism and a number of similar situations.

On the other hand, alternative therapies can and do provide highly effective solutions in the treatment of a plethora of medical conditions and do not produce adverse effects, either long or short-term, particularly in the treatment of arthritis, back problems and most conditions with the common factor of inflammation, a major component in most disease processes.

I first learned about Laser Therapy in 1988, having injured my right shoulder in a skiing accident in 1986. The injury included a complete tear of the supraspinatus tendon and a fracture of the humeral head generating chronic inflammation of the shoulder joint. Subsequent to this episode, I consulted a number of orthopedic surgeons and the general consensus was to perform an arthrogram to be followed by immediate surgery. Being a trained surgeon, I resisted the temptation to follow this approach, based on past experience, notwithstanding the fact that both orthopedic surgeons I consulted were highly competent and had the best of intentions. My conclusion was that this intervention, fully approved by the regulatory bodies, would not substantially benefit me and I therefore pursued an alternative course. Above all, I did not wish to be subjected to an additional trauma.

Unfortunately, prior to Laser Therapy, from 1986-1989 I was unable to play golf or swim on a regular basis, secondary to the discomfort and pain. Analgesics and anti-inflammatory medications produced undesirable side effects; moreover, I objected to them on basic principles. Periodically, when the symptoms became unbearable, I submitted to cortisone injections which, when properly placed, provided temporary relief. A permanent cure proved elusive.

Finally, I found a therapist equipped with a primitive European Laser device and in a short period of time, my shoulder pain subsided significantly. Inspired by this turn of events, I began my pursuit of self-education in the emerging technology of Laser Therapy. Over the course of two years, I read over 300 articles and 13 texts on this topic and participated in many national and international meetings exploring the subject.

Here are some observations noted on this journey:

 How little was really known about this therapeutic medium at that time.
 How much remained to be learned.
 How we must open our minds to new ideas, thoughts and solutions.
 How we must question tradition and “the way things have always been done”.
 How we must be critical of the massive amount of information and disinformation coursing through the net. This is extremely challenging and reminds me of my mother who often said, “I read the following in the newspaper.” My usual response would be, “I know that this is not true.” Her invariable retort was that “It would not be in the newspaper if it were not true!” She also believed in the infallibility of physicians, with the exclusion of myself. Unfortunately, that was the cause of her demise at the age of 93. Had it not been for a series of hospital blunders, she might still be alive today.
 We must always be aware of how the internet disseminates a mountain of data, all of which is of course documented by humans, many of whom have a vested interest in benefiting the propagator of the information provided.
 Creativity and independent thought must be encouraged. In a civilized world, these qualities inevitably lead to progress.
 Never be afraid to question or criticize authoritarianism in its varied forms.
 Do not permit economic conventions, inappropriate regulations, and other obstructions to get in the way of implementing better therapeutic solutions.

To cite some recent advances, I refer to:
o Stem Cell Therapy
o Genetic Modification (gene splicing)
o Robotic Surgery
o Laser Therapy, etc.

 All healthcare professionals should be encouraged to make the patient’s clinical status the focus of their endeavors.
 Most significant of all, are the advances in Laser Medicine over the past decade and the wide impact this should have on the quality of medical care, now and in the future.

When asked how he conducted research surveys indicating what product the company should build, Steve Jobs, the late departed CEO of Apple, stated, “Surveys of that type have no interest to me. I know what people need and that is what I give them.” To me, this represents a greater wisdom than the many aphorisms espoused daily by the leaders of the corporate world.
Steve Jobs may have been, in the eyes of some, a “son of a bitch” but he is one of the few who had the vision and courage to nurture his original concepts and ideas and translate them into reality. All of us should adopt this type of guidance to a greater degree. Personally, I like to think that in many ways Laser technology is developing along a similar trend.

At our clinics, the most significant results produced are in the treatment of arthritis, musculoskeletal problems, particularly the spine, dermatological conditions including wound healing, along with the all too common soft tissue and sports injuries, many of which have acquired the characteristics of chronicity.

In addition, we have discovered and are learning that Laser Therapy has the potential to treat more complex systemic conditions, particularly in situations where conventional methods have been ineffective.

In the past several years, stimulated by several neurological researchers, we have developed and refined some exciting new applications in the field of neurology, particularly with regard to the following conditions:

• Concussion
• CVAs
• Dementias
• Multiple Sclerosis
• Depression
• Anxiety Disorders
• Nerve Regeneration
• Spinal Cord Injuries
• Demyelinating Diseases (Gene 7 Paresis)

While only a relatively small number of these conditions have been treated, it must be noted that we have achieved a greater degree of success than anticipated. In keeping with the conventional one-line disclaimer so common in academic circles, “more studies are indicated”. At the same time, I must emphasize that we continue to meet, if not exceed, our expectations.

The constant road block? Insurance companies. They may be willing to pay for diagnostic services, but refuse to pay for actual therapy that may not yet be “authorized”. Again, this is one of the regressive forms of behaviour dictated by managed healthcare systems in the interest of economic considerations. While the focus is on diagnostics, there is a clear lack of enthusiasm for selecting and applying therapies designed to actually benefit the patient. This is commonly described as “risk management”.

Another problem I mentioned is that pharmaceuticals are generally paid for by the management systems in place. Whereas prescriptions are often written under the mystique of providing instant benefit, the reality is that an undetermined number of prescriptions are never filled, which may be a blessing in disguise. Two-hundred and ninety patient deaths are reported daily in North America – the result of pharmaceutical utilization. In reality there are probably thousands!

In 1998 an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that prescriptions legally written by physicians are the 4th leading cause of death.
In his 2012 book, Unaccountable, Dr. M Makary, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine researcher, shows how “mining sickness for profit” makes everybody “unaccountable” – hence the book’s title. The book illuminates a description of how hospitals are a major cause of death and how at least 30% of conventional “healthcare” is unnecessary and leads to deadly results.

From my personal perspective, effective therapeutic solutions have always been integral to the agenda of any ethical medical practice. Again, instituting immediate treatment when the disease process begins, circumvents the obstructive process of bureaucracies in the treatment of both routine and complex medical conditions, while substantially reducing the cost of healthcare.

Remember that administrators and other gatekeepers have no real interest in finding the best possible medical solutions but focus instead on cost controls and their primary interest remains the bottom line.

For a good clinician, defining the correct diagnosis does not require a major effort. In most instances, it can be accurately determined by taking a detailed history and performing an equally thorough physical examination. This aspect of medical practice, unfortunately, is no longer de rigeur.

Diagnostic studies, which can be expensive and harmful, should only be employed when the practitioner is unable to arrive at a working diagnosis or to confirm the clinical diagnosis, if this is essential.

All too frequently, prolonged diagnostic studies, the prescription of inappropriate pharmaceuticals, cross consultations, and other non-relevant assessments delay the initiation of therapy and therefore the healing process. This approach is wasteful and one must remember that no pathology can be cured without initiating appropriate treatment, preferably immediately.

It is therefore paramount that Laser Therapy, which can be easily administered by therapists with a modicum of medical training, can and should be more widely implemented, particularly in situations where urgent and effective treatment is essential.

Today, evidence-based medicine is all too often related to double-blind studies, peer reviews and the literature. Sometimes these imply or provide automatic approval of therapies that may have minimal benefit at best. In view of this, one must always ask:
• Who finances these studies?
• How relevant are they?
• Who conducts them?
• And for what purpose?

My personal view is that when a patient presents with a problem and has undergone many studies and treatments without any measurable improvement that is clear evidence of failure. Unfortunately, in healthcare systems today there is no real accountability and supervision of progress may be spurious or even non-existent.
Confusion surrounding terminologies such as “evidence-based”, “scientific”, “double blind”, etc. may often be categorized as time based illusions. Healthcare professionals must adopt therapies that cure the problem rather than focusing on the modulation of symptoms and physician compensation codes. The latter is comparable to following a road leading to nowhere.

In our clinics, the problems that we treat most frequently include multi-level degenerative disc disease and single disc herniations, often accompanied by stenosis, radiculitis, etc. The success rate in these situations is over 90% and no adverse effects are produced. In a select number of cases we have performed follow-up MRIs and were not surprised to see that the problem had been resolved (i.e. the disc herniation could no longer be visualized).

Contrary to current concepts, we frequently encounter young athletes with dysfunctional knees. The basis of these pathologies consists of varying degrees of disruption of the anterior cruciate and/or other ligaments, meniscal tears, contusions, etc. Currently, these are almost invariably treated with surgical intervention, which can lead to complications and permanent dysfunction.

As the number of patients presenting at our clinic with these types of injuries has increased over the past several years, we have again been able to conduct follow-up MRI studies and complete healing has been reported most notably in cases where the original MRI read complete anterior cruciate ligament tear. It is my belief that in these instances, a portion of the anterior cruciate ligament remains intact, perhaps only 10%. Again, further studies are indicated and we are conducting these on an ongoing basis.
Without question, if my knee were injured I would use the conservative Laser Therapy approach and surgery could always be instituted at a later date if necessary; this is rarely the case.

It should be noted that frequently patients are successfully treated with Laser Therapy for conditions that have not improved with traditional therapies. Nevertheless, some physicians will comment that they do not believe in this therapy, and this often repeated statement stimulates some reflection on my part.

I believe that our planet sustains approximately 7 billion people and that over 90% of the entire population, I am informed, believes in some God, religious power or tradition. Without invoking blasphemy at any level, I have never been informed that anyone has actually had a conversation, discussion or meeting with a God. Nevertheless, a God of some form exists in almost everyone’s mind and historically the belief in a Dogma survives, particularly in the face of political repression attempting to dissuade citizens from maintaining this practice.

Obviously some remediation of the medical profession is indicated. It should be noted that in all cultures ignorance and non-believers exist. These have always been a mainstay of the human condition and the effort to maintain this status is sacrosanct to many. It feeds their ego, as they have established an opinion – right or wrong – and free-choice philosophy dictates that individuals can choose to be ignorant and incompetent if they wish and there is really nothing that can be done about that. Eventually, these non-believers may become extinct, hopefully replaced by those with more open and educable minds.

Needless to say, progress will require some leadership from educational institutions and governments. Hopefully this process will stimulate further reflection on our ethical and moral values. And then there is always the matter of mass conditioning. For instance, several years ago when a flu epidemic was rampant in Canada, people dealt with infinite lines to obtain the vaccine. Individuals lined up day and night to receive the shots and information was rapidly circulated about the clinics that had the shortest wait times. This persisted for several weeks. As soon as the flu vaccine became widely available, the lines almost instantly evaporated.

CONCLUDING COMMENTS:

• My vision is to exchange a Laser Therapy Unit for every prescription pad in existence.

• To take control of healthcare away from governments and other vested interests and return it to properly educated and trained healthcare professionals who possess an understanding of quality healthcare.

• Everyone reviewing this article should strive to become a creative and effective Laser Therapist.

• Embracing these concepts will improve every citizen’s healthcare immeasurably and wide application can reduce costs of delivery by billions of dollars.

LASER THERAPY

07/22/13

Pain is the most frequent symptom that brings patients to doctor’s offices. At the same time, the majority of therapeutic solutions for the treatment of pain consists of modulators, counterirritants and a variety of pharmaceuticals designed to suppress or mask symptoms. Essentially none of these address the causative factors or the existing pathology responsible for the pain, along with other symptoms. At Meditech we have always been aware of this problem and our efforts are directed to cure the pathology causing the pain. Once again, it must be clearly understood that pain is merely a symptom, not a disease, and in order to eliminate it, the causative factors must be resolved.

BioFlex Laser Therapy Systems present a non-invasive, therapeutic solution that has been approved by Health Canada, the FDA and the European Economic Union for the treatment of many conditions, including musculoskeletal problems, arthritis, sports, soft tissue injuries, etc. Over the past decade particularly, we have expanded the applications to other diseases, providing effective clinical solutions when conventional therapies are ineffective.

Our educational opportunities based on scientific research and clinical applications address the advantages of Laser Therapy and more recently we have expanded the number of conditions to the list of diseases that can be effectively treated.

If you require information regarding our technology, please request the information pertinent to your needs. Many thanks for your interest in the BioFlex Laser Therapy Systems.

Fred Kahn, MD, FRCS(C)

INTERNATIONAL FINANCIAL INSTABILITY & HEALTHCARE

07/12/13

Financial instability, a growing constant in commercial activities since World War II, has embarked on a path of unpredictable and accelerating variables.

As the most recent and rather murky events in Cyprus have clearly demonstrated, uncertainty and instability are the prevailing keynotes at this time. Aside from continuing unreasonable and punitive taxation, beginning with parking meters in our cities, to the promotion and sale of bad paper by major financial institutions, this trend will eventually impoverish everyone.

Unfortunately these events impact healthcare from many perspectives. Ideally a high level response should be everyone’s right, however, we must consider who will pay for this right? Like untying the gorgonian knot, no one is in the position to answer this question at this time. Despite this, we remain trapped in a downward spiral. Diminishing incomes among the masses, rising costs and higher penalties are the order of the day. Unless dramatic and positive change occurs to reverse this trend, it will engulf everyone over the next decade or perhaps even sooner. The poor will not become rich, the middleclass will disappear and the rich will become poor. Neither rhetoric nor adversely inflaming the masses will bring crucial change to this scenario.

Currently there is no strong leadership existing in the individual countries and the world governments, which enlarge without cessation struggling to survive with a shrinking tax base. Rhetoric notwithstanding, they are currently unable to fund themselves and have no evident solutions other than printing more money and thereby further debasing their own currencies and increasing their debt load.
One change that should be considered, and is probably the simplest in the long-term, is the improvement of educational systems. At this stage moral values and standards of integrity can be instilled at the formative level. However, this can only be accomplished when the funding, monitoring and mentoring of teachers enables them to move forward in this direction.

All those engaged in delivering healthcare appear to be more concerned about compensation codes than ensuring that healthcare will be delivered in a prompt effective manner. This has created another maelstrom of confusion deliberately infusing a level of conflict between physician and patient that is unprecedented.

Governments are increasingly focused on diminishing and restricting healthcare provisions, along with their budgets, further inducing instability into the system. In this current of negative forces, the patient often floats on a sea of despair, particularly when emergency care is required. Again, no bureaucratic resolutions are apparent on the horizon. Leadership to reverse this course must be found and implemented immediately.

What happens when your insurer won’t pay?

04/29/13

It’s the fear every consumer has buying insurance. When it comes time to make a claim, your insurer will have some reason not to pay out.

The doomsday scenario isn’t just fantasy, it’s reality, say many people who fight insurance companies on a regular basis.

The issue was highlighted this week when a Saskatchewan judge awarded Luciano Branco $5-million, saying the actions of his insurance companies established “a pattern of abuse” — Justice Murray Acton noting he wanted to send a message to the industry.

The case could be a template for anyone paranoid about getting his or her claim cashed out.

The claimant in this case was a welder who was injured on the job. The judge noted the man, who suffered a permanent disability, was offered a “ridiculously low” settlement as the insurance companies dragged its feet for years on the claim.

While cases like this may not be the norm, Toronto lawyer Sivan Tumarkin has built a legal practice around getting insurance companies to pay up.

“I’m just getting more and more of these,” said Mr. Tumarkin, who used to work for insurance companies in a defense capacity. “I only started doing this because I had people coming to me who were having issues with insurance companies. You have a flooded home and they won’t cover. I have someone [who gets sick] in New York with travel insurance and they won’t cover.”

He says the insurance companies don’t out and out reject claims for no reason but their objections are in many cases for negligible reasons.

Mr. Tumarkin had an older couple as clients recently who put in a health claim for a fracture suffered by the wife while on vacation in the U.S. The claim was paid but the insurance company when back into their medical records and found out some of the information filled out in the application was incorrect and demanded $30,000 back.

The basis of many insurance claim rejections is something on a policy being filled out incorrectly, either on purpose or because of a misunderstanding.

You buy a life insurance policy and say you don’t smoke even though you have the occasional butt at a bar. One day you get killed in a car accident. If your insurer finds out about your occasional indulgence, there’s a good chance they’ll fight the claim.

“The law is you have to answer truthfully but it is ambiguous about the way you might answer the question as a lay person,” says Mr. Tumarkin. “They’ll look at absolutely everything they can to try and not cover you. I’m not saying in every case but a lot of them.”

He says insurance companies in property damage claims on car accidents will drag their feet on an investigation, knowing there is time limit to sue.

Out and out rejection of claims to meet some quota is probably more something you see in movies, says Mr. Tumarkin. “There is willful blindness on the part of adjusters,” he says. “There is never absolutely no reason they don’t pay. They’ll just use every excuse in the book.”

Pete Karageorgos, manager of consumer and industry relations with the Insurance Bureau of Canada which represents home and auto insurers, says there are no statistics on what percentage of claims get rejected.

But on the auto front, the industry has statistics that show in Ontario in 2010, the sector took in $9.4-billion in premiums and paid out $8.3-billion.

“It goes to show you the majority of money coming in goes right back out to pay claims,” said Mr. Karageorgos.

He adds insurance is a contract and any insurance adjuster will look at the conditions that could negate the agreement.

“Insurance companies are not just going to take your word for it,” said Mr. Karageorgos. “For any contract to be valid and effective, the conditions on both parties parts need to be satisfied.”

The issue for many people in hiring a lawyer is the up front cost. In the Saskatchewan case, the welder who sued his insurance companies had to be bailed out financial by family members.

One thing you can work out in some cases is an agreement whereby your legal bill is covered based on a contingency fee basis, your lawyer gets his bill paid from the winnings.

You can also consider taking your insurance company to Small Claims Court.

Another suggestion for consumers is buy insurance products from a broker, who is compensated by the insurance company but not employed by them. By using the broker, you have the added possibility of suing the broker if he or she gave you bad information when filling out your policy.

Some policies get reviewed by insurance companies before they are issued and people are rejected or assessed at a higher rate, such as in life insurance. But for low margin products like travel insurance, there is no investigation until a claim is submitted.

“You have the policy underwritten at the time of application not at the time of claim, so there is no surprises and it is completely on the up and up,” said certified financial planner Mark Halpern, of illnessprotection.com.

Sometimes he’ll get a client who wants to say he doesn’t smoke when he does occasionally and Mr. Halpern rejects that business because he doesn’t want to see the claim eventually dismissed.

In other cases, people make innocent mistakes about the type of medication or the maladies they have had in the past.

“It’s really important you keep a record of your medical history,” said Mr. Halpern.

He doesn’t dismiss the notion that insurance companies will reject claims for flimsy reasons and says a broker can be an important advocate on your behalf in that situation.

“If that doesn’t work, there is always [a lawyer],” said Mr. Halpern, noting in many cases the presence of lawyer leads to some type of settlement.

“The insurance don’t like to have bad press but they don’t want these things lingering if there is something [that could work against them]. In the worst case, you might get some settlement,” he says.

Alex Saltykov, founder of InsureEye Inc. which follows the industry, says there are no statistics to show what percentage of claims are paid out.

He says consumers really have to make sure they know what is covered and not because insurance policy are so complicated.

Mr. Saltykov found himself not completely covered for treatment he needed for physiotherapy because he had not read the terms of his insurance contract.

“You want it to be there in the worst moment of your life,” said Mr. Saltykov. “If you are not sure of what should be disclosed, you better disclose it even it makes your insurance go up. Otherwise you risk your company not paying.”

Breaking Branco

04/25/13

The article below obtained from the Northern Miner, April 24th, once again demonstrates the deceptive practices of insurance companies who collect premiums on the basis of false advertising and then fail to honor their obligations to the patient. When will our politicians take note and rectify these serious problems?

Luciano Branco’s long and soul-destroying battle with insurance firms AIG and Zurich has finally reached some satisfaction in the courts, with a Saskatoon judge awarding the injured Portuguese-Canadian welder $450,000 in aggravated damages and $4.5 million in punitive damages. It’s the largest award of its kind ever given by a Canadian court against insurance companies.
Branco, now 62, immigrated at age 24 to Canada, where he learned to weld and worked out West and up North. In 1994 he moved back to Portugal, and by 1997 was working at Cameco-subsidiary Cameco Gold’s (now Centerra Gold) huge Kumtor open-pit gold mine in Kyrgyzstan.
During a 12-hour shift on Dec. 25, 1999, he dropped a steel plate on his foot. He finished his shift, packed his foot in ice, and returned to Portugal at the end of his 28-day rotation to recuperate. Towards the end of his next rotation, he stepped on a piece of steel and reinjured his foot, and then sought medical treatment in Portugal, missing his next rotation.
He only reported his injury to the Kumtor operating company on his next rotation in June 2000, when he did not work at the camp. Kumtor continued to pay his base salary of $51,920 to the end of his contract in March 2001 (in fact, overpaying him $12,000 by mistake).
Anxious to get back to work, Branco had surgery on his foot in January 2001, but it was unsuccessful. Despite physiotherapy and rehabilitation treatments, Branco’s Portuguese doctor determined that he was permanently disabled and in chronic pain, a prognosis repeated many times in the following years by specialists in Canada.
American Home Assurance Co. (AIG) was advised of Branco’s work-related injury in mid-2000, which triggered the Saskatchewan Workers’ Compensation Board-equivalent claim handled under the AIG policy. His long-term disability benefits were covered by Zurich Insurance.
To make a long story short, AIG and Zurich refused to pay out the benefits owed to Branco, hoping the outrageously long delays, transcontinental complexities and non-stop legal bills would grind him down and force him to accept a much lower settlement.
In the recent judgment, Justice Murray Acton found that AIG and Zurich had acted in a “cruel and malicious” manner towards Branco for more than a decade, offering him “ridiculously low” settlements, including AIG initially offering him a cash settlement of just US$22,500. AIG didn’t make some of its payments owed to Branco until the day of the trial.
Zurich, for its part, internally approved Branco’s long-term disability payment in 2002, but never informed Branco, who didn’t receive his first funds from Zurich until 2009 and had turned down Zurich’s settlement offer of $62,900, minus $9,000 in legal costs in April 2003. “This court cannot imagine a more protracted and reprehensible behaviour than that of Zurich in blatantly refusing to pay what had been owed in monthly payments for almost eight years,” Acton writes in his decision. “The actions of AIG and Zurich establish a pattern of abuse of an individual suffering from financial and emotional vulnerability.” (The judge said that the mining company had treated Branco fairly, and only the insurance companies were liable for damages.)
The judge noted that prior to his injury, Branco was a “proud, athletic and hard-working individual” who was “warm, friendly and sensitive” and an “excellent employee” at Kumtor. After the injury and the withholding of benefits, however, he had become a “demoralized man full of sadness and loss of pleasure,” and an individual “full of anxiety and depression.”
The insurance companies, Acton writes, “virtually destroyed Branco’s life over the last 13 years,” causing his marriage to break down and financial burdens to be placed on his daughter and other family members, and his legal representation. The judge writes that the insurance companies tried to use Branco’s diminished life to “gain leverage” over him and force him to accept a low settlement.
“That Branco was able to continue to withstand this pressure for so many years from two different fronts is truly remarkable and almost superhuman, even though his resistance may have resulted in irreparable mental distress, which may last for the remainder of his lifetime,” Acton writes. “The question remains: how many individuals have been unable to withstand the financial and psychological pressure of these tactics?”
The insurance companies are expected to appeal the decision.

Reflections on Neurological Conditions

03/12/13

Many illnesses share common DNA roots. The five most common mental illnesses present in the following order:

1. Autism.
2. ADD.
3. Bipolar disease.
4. Schizophrenia.
5. Depression.

The latest research published in the journal Lancet indicates that all these diseases are the result of genetic variations, some of which have been extensively reviewed. i.e.:

• Chromosome 3
• Chromosome 10
• Calcium channels, which play a significant factor in controlling cell function
• Environmental influences

This synopsis of mental illnesses and the factors involved (many of which are unknown) are challenging, particularly with regard to effective therapies.

Currently, there is an extensive amount of research being carried out in many leading clinical and research centres throughout the world and it would appear that genetic factors may be pre-eminent as the etiological causes responsible for these disease processes.

Laser Therapy is beginning to play a role in this therapeutic area, which of course is important, in order to achieve positive clinical outcomes. Some of the effects of Laser Therapy on neurological tissue include the following:

• Increase in ATP production raising energy levels within the cells
• Increased deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) and ribonucleic acid (RNA)
• Increased nitric oxide (NO) release
• Enhanced cytochrome c oxidase activity
• Modulation of reactive oxygen species (ROS)
• Modifications to intracellular organelle membrane activity
• Cytoprotective effects
• Down-regulation of pro-inflammatory mediators
• Increase in secretion of anti-inflammatory mediators
• Angiogenesis
• Neurogenesis and neuroplasticity facilitation

All of these physiological activities produce a neuromodulating or neuromedation type of effect, particularly on brain tissue.

This commentary is appropriate as at this time more effective therapies need to be developed to deal with these problems. At Meditech, we have had a long standing interest in these pathologies and recent discussions with several neuroscientists stimulate our efforts to accelerate the development of reliable therapeutic options.

As an increasing number of patients are treated, we gain experience, establish effective protocols and expect that our work in the treatment of these complex and problematic conditions will be particularly rewarding for patients.

THE JOYS OF GOVERNMENT HEALTHCARE

03/4/13

This article published in the Financial Post, Wednesday, February 27th, clearly demonstrates the absurdities resulting from government controlled healthcare. The degree of relevance may best be compared to the book, Animal Farm, penned by George Orwell many years ago.
Unfortunately in our current culture, rhetoric trumps reality, as recently demonstrated by the election of Barack Obama over Mitt Romney. The former is an orator, the latter a skilled proven businessman who is best equipped to run a company (i.e. the USA), balance the budget, and meet the needs of the people.
Evidence based results are no longer a factor in our society and some day we will rue the day this ceased to be the basis of all focus and reason.
Incidentally Laser Therapy, a technology that Meditech International has developed over the past 20 years, would probably take 3400 plus of those patients off the waiting list and improve the patient’s status so they would no longer require surgery or pharmaceuticals, and could resume a normal lifestyle.
The costs for this therapy would be approximately $1500-2000 per patient.
When will governments begin to devote some attention to the welfare of the people rather than the housing allowance of senators?
Fred Kahn, MD, FRCS(C)

WOMAN STILL WAITING FOR SURGERY AFTER 11 YEARS

Wendy Berringer’s feet are killing her. They hurt when she stands, when she walks and when she sits, which is what she was doing Tuesday, in her favourite rocking chair in her Halifax home, telling me about her bunions, a tiny broken bone in her left foot and her creaking left ankle, which cracks and groans and aches, causing her all manner of grief.

“I had my first appointment with my family doctor for my feet in 2002,” she says. “The original problem was my bunions. They rub in your shoes and you can’t walk properly. They are very sore. My family doctor made me an appointment to see a foot surgeon in Halifax to get the problem fixed.

“That was 11 years ago.”

In what seems like a parody of complaints over medicare waiting lists, Wendy Berringer is still, 11 years later, waiting for that appointment. Her would-be foot surgeon, an otherwise staunch defender of public healthcare, says there is nothing he can do about it, not when Ms. Berringer’s foot problem isn’t life and death — and not when his waiting list is 3,500 names long — and not when he is the only foot and ankle man in the entire province.

“I’ve been alone out here, really, for a long, long time,” says Dr. Mark Glazebrook from Halifax. “Dr. Andrea Veljkovic, in Kentville, is taking a job in Toronto.

“She was out here on a locum and we were hoping to extend her stay but the government said we didn’t have the money for her. Right now I have 3,500 people waiting to be seen by me in consultation. I have a private office where I see my referrals and the referrals are dated 2003 and 2004 now — and I have them chronologically up to 2013 — and I get close to 40 new referrals a week. And it’s for all of Nova Scotia.

“The province now acknowledges that there actually is a problem here, and they want to help us to get it sorted, so the Minister of Health has been fairly co-operative.

“But they still talk about resources and making decisions and, well, come on: maybe foot and ankle is not as important as cancer, and not as important as heart conditions, but a 10-year waiting list is way outside the norm in terms of what you should expect in public care, and if 10 years is the norm in public care than it is time to think of going private. People have the right to be seen for their problems.”

Dr. Glazebrook believes the public health care system is the “jewel in Canada’s crown,” and yet, he says, it is expensive to operate and if the government is more concerned with finding “efficiencies” than in hiring more doctors to tackle what is a Canada-wide wait time problem — that only additional manpower can truly fix — then we, as a country, are eye-to-eye with the proposition of actually having an honest conversation about private medicine.

David Wilson, a former paramedic, is Nova Scotia’s Health and Wellness Minister. He says the province’s NDP government has been “working hard” to ensure “that the province has a good complement of surgeons and specialists.”

How having one foot and ankle surgeon, with a 3,500 person backlog, qualifies as “good” is unclear. But, no matter, the politician says creating a parallel private system or offering health consumers a private option would pull money away from the public till and erode what the province already has, flawed though it may be.

“I think, and this has been a view of our party, and we have been very vocal about it, but I think we have to be very careful because the minute you [talk privatization] you open up the opportunity for profit to play a role and really siphon funds from a public system,” he said.
Dr. Glazebrook says hiring three additional foot and ankle specialists would cure his wait list woes. David Wilson says there is no money to hire them with. And so here we are, in a perfect pickle, with people like Wendy Berringer being told to grit their teeth and get in line.
“I know you have to wait your turn in Canada,” Ms. Berringer says. “I understand that. But sometimes the system doesn’t seem to work for the people that need it.

“I am kind of back to full circle, back to Dr. Glazebrook, and he has a 3,500-person waiting list. I have waited over 10 years to see him and I’m not getting any younger, you know.”

Timothy Caulfield

A Commentary on Electroshock Therapy

02/25/13

Historically, electroshock therapy has been utilized clinically for the better part of the past century. Aside from the trauma to the brain tissue, which may be irreversible, the benefit obtained, no matter how great, is only temporary. This in itself should mitigate against the application of this therapy. Needless to say, psychiatrists, psychotherapists, and others who deal with problematic patients, frequently become frustrated with a conservative approach and when stimulated by patients and/or relatives, may surrender to the temptation to change the therapeutic paradigm.

A preponderance of existing evidence indicates that utilization of ECT is controversial at best. From my personal perspective, I would certainly employ measures that are more conservative, such as psychotherapy, tranquilizers, etc. On the other hand, unquestionably there are occasions where ECT can be used as a court of last resort.

In the current medical climate, there is an overwhelming desire, if not need, to obtain “a quick fix” – ie. the so-called Instant Gratification Syndrome. This should definitely be replaced by less intrusive methods, requiring patience on the part of the therapist along with the client. More practitioners should give this matter considerable thought and reflection.

In our experience, in a small group of patients where ECT has been previously utilized, replacing this therapy with Laser Therapy has proven to be beneficial and obviates the need for more intrusive therapy. Studies in this area are continuing and indications to date are that wider adaptation of Laser Therapy is warranted.

Laser Therapy is used to widely irradiate the cervical spine, the brain, and of course the cerebrospinal fluid and its components. This creates a potent calming, or neuromediation effect, which is often dramatic from a therapeutic perspective.

For additional information contact Fernanda Saraga, Ph.D, Meditech International Inc., fernanda@bioflexlaser.com

GAMBLING COMMENTARY

02/11/13

It should be of interest to most citizens that legislation produced by governments is periodically reversed and all too frequently devoid of any perceptible reason. The purpose generally is to increase its revenues, thereby broadening its powers. Change is certainly an important component of our culture, for if we are to progress, occasionally we must move in a new direction. On the other hand, change should be implemented to positively impact the population’s needs and certainly not to create negative influences.

It was not too many years ago when gambling at almost any level, even card games privately conducted in the home, were considered to be criminal activities, particularly when an exchange of currency was involved. Citizens could be arrested at random, fined and even imprisoned, following due process of course. Now, governments around the globe are intensely pursuing efforts to popularize gambling under the guise of bringing wealth to the communities, but in actuality, simply to enhance “their coffers”. From criminal activity, it has been converted to an important “source of revenue” simply to provide governments with more clout.

All this has been done by the stroke of a pen, facilitated by lobbyists, and other nefarious influences. Does this make sense?

It is widely known that gaming at any level, especially when organized, nurtures criminal elements, initiates personal economic disaster and brings to bloom all the negative aspects of human activity, particularly those which can be considered to be criminal in nature. Prostitution, addiction to alcohol and drugs, theft and every known depravity follows in its wake, like a river surging through a broken dam. Moreover, in communities where it has been implemented, it almost immediately results in a form of “chronic depression” aside from the routine matters of degradation.

In recent decades, Indian reserves across North America, after approval by federal, state and provincial governments, have made casinos a staple on their lands. In no instance has it brought benefit to the population of those communities, except to the 2 or 3 band members who “manage the tribe’s funds”. The latter appear to spend it on fast cars, travel, alcohol and other addictions, followed by many months spent in rehab facilities. Only a modicum trickles into education, health care, better housing, matters where purportedly more support is to be provided.

Politicians, of course, will always state that this activity creates new jobs. And so it does. But are these productive and long-term jobs that create a positive impact on people’s lives? Definitely not. Gambling does nothing to improve the human condition and only serves to widen the hole of blackness and despair wherever casinos are located, be it major cities, resorts or reservations.

Clearly, gambling as a solution to economic problems created by the greed, stupidity and fraudulent practices conducted and sanctioned by governments and the financial sector, create problems significantly more extensive than those it pretends to relieve. All citizens should stringently oppose these measures in the interest of long-term public welfare. It is imperative that voters express total opposition to this intrusion, which has always been contrary to the public interest. The so-called benefits that it delivers, primarily to governments, lobbyists and a select few managers, simply impose another oppression on the populace. Once entrenched, legalized gambling, like a bad disease, will never disappear and this negative impact will expand exponentially.

The Filipiuk Comment

12/12/12

With the US election results now behind us, the markets are squarely focused on the “fiscal cliff” threatening the country. If Congress and the President don’t come to terms before the end of the year, the economy will be hit with tax increases and spending cuts that could lop 3.6% off the GDP. This would put the US economy into a full-blown recession. Many are hopeful that a compromise will be reached, but one must remember that, even if there is a deal done, the US government still must grapple with the reality of a gaping annual budget deficit that is unsustainable. Up until now, the US economy has been kept above recession levels owing to a trillion-dollar annual increase in government spending. Much of this extra money is being provided by the US banking system and the Federal Reserve. The Fed is printing money, and buying government bonds and mortgages to fund this deficit. It has also cut interest rates to zero so that the financing of this debt hurts as little as possible. Recently, the Fed extended its “Quantitative Easing” program indefinitely, claiming that it was to help the unemployment rate. In reality, it is likely that it is just allowing the government more time to get its house in order: i.e. to kick the can down the road. Ever since Obama’s re-election, the stock market has been going down, partly as a result of the slowing global economy but also of the uncertainty surrounding the future government policy. Even if the “fiscal cliff” is avoided, the US economy won’t he helped much, as it still faces gargantuan deficits and spending cuts to come.

I recently came across a fascinating video created by Paul Grignon, entitled “Money as Debt”. The 47 minute film explains in very simple terms the history of the modern banking system, how it has deteriorated, and how it can possibly be fixed. It is a truism that, in order to succeed in any realm of life, whether it is sports, business, or investing, it is essential to know the rules of the game. This video demonstrates how the banking game is structured and is very thought-provoking. For example, the fact is that we live in a debt based money system, in which money is created through the issuance of debt. Since there is an interest charge on debt, more money must be created year after year to service the debt (or money) that has already been created. Eventually this compounding goes exponential and is unsustainable. We are potentially at that point right now. The fact that a system that functions this way was ever allowed to become the mechanism for how our world creates the money for its economy is mind boggling. I think that many people still find the concept of money’s being printed out of thin air to be surreal. It is an unconscionable privilege bestowed on a few, and its consequences can be devastating. Most of us have to earn our money through work, yet commercial banks and central banks can print it at will. I really encourage clients and others to watch this video and form their own opinion.