A lack of transparency in medical errors

Everyone makes mistakes. Doctors can make mistakes, after all, they are just human beings. But being honest about them, giving a sincere apology, and having a plan to ensure that they are not repeated in the future maybe an appropriate approach to take when medical errors do occur.

When my grandfather went to see a doctor because of prolonged fatigue, Continue reading


Is healthcare becoming too ‘technical’ for the Silent Generation?

Yesterday, I was volunteering at a cancer hospital when a lady in her 80s expressed in a quiet voice “everything is becoming too technical for us” when she was encouraged to complete an online questionnaire. Not exactly sure what to say, I replied with a warm smile, “we are always here to help.”

McDonalization of society through the use of technology dominates our everyday life. We want quick results, quick services, and quick means of getting work done. The term we live by is “efficiency”. If we don’t get our morning coffee in 2 minutes, we become irritated and blame the staff for being ‘too slow’. If we have to wait for our medications for over 10 minutes, we say that the pharmacist doesn’t know what he/she is doing. Somehow, technology appears to promise us to bring ‘efficiency’ in our lives and make things ‘easy for all of us’. But does it really?

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Does boredom lead to compulsive behaviours?

Recall a time when you were really bored. Now, imagine yourself being bored. What do you see yourself doing during boredom? Ever had the experience of repeatedly checking Facebook or Instagram or Twitter for no good reason?

In today’s digital world, we cope with our boredom by disengaging ourselves from the real world to ‘reel’ world (i.e., social media). Whether it is by regularly posting selfies or checking other people’s posts, we deliberately and addictively make use of such mediums as means of passage of time. But it has a numbing effect on our minds. And we are unaware of it.

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The ramifications of physician-assisted death legalization

It was very painful and almost unbearable to see my grandmother suffer from an incurable illness during the last few days of her life. She laid down on her bed, motionless and silent, and looked emaciated and vulnerable. The weak motion of her jaw as she gasped for air through the oxygen mask with each breath was the only remaining sign of her existence. Every night when I stayed up to take care of her, it frightened me to think that any breath would be her last one. One part of me wished to never let her go, but the other part of me prayed for her sufferings to end.

It’s very hard to let our loved ones go, but it is equally as hard to see them suffer through the pain from their incurable illness. Trudeau’s liberal government is proposing a plan to legalize physician-assisted death in Canada. Some positive aspects of this plan are as follows: (1) it is only limited to Canadians and permanent residents of Canada in order to prevent “medical tourism” of visitors from other countries seeking medical assistance in ending their lives; (2) it is for patients with a “serious and incurable illness”, Continue reading

Transitioning from the world of ABCD’s to the world of uncertainties

From Kindergarten up until university, we are trained to believe that there is only one correct answer, and if we choose the correct answer, then we will be rewarded. This reward works as a positive reinforcement, and so we always strive to pick the correct option whenever we are given multiple choices to choose from. For example, due to large class size, most undergraduate classes use multiple choice format in tests and exams. This means that to get a question correct, students are required to choose the most correct option out of A, B, C, D, and E choices. There are no uncertainties there, you either know the answer and get a point or do not know answer and loose the opportunity to earn a point.

The real world is quite different than the academic world. In the real world, we are faced with all kinds of uncertainties. Continue reading

Is the changing demographic reshaping our cities?

As baby boomers age, cities will have to be redesigned in many ways in order to better accommodate their needs.

First, better accommodation for elderly and disabled individuals needs to be expanded in public transits. There are many different levels at subway stations, which means that we have to take sets of stairs to catch your train. This means that nearly fifty percent of our daily cardio workout is finished while commuting in subway trains, which may be a good thing for some of us! Continue reading

The IKEA Effect

Every year, I like to make birthday cards for family members on their birthdays. However, when I buy birthday cards, no matter how good they look and how expensive they are, I find myself valuing them less compared to my home-made ones.

If you create it, you are going to value it more compared to those created by someone else-“the IKEA effect”.

It is interesting to see that since Ikea furniture requires a great deal of assembly, the furniture might be valued more compared to those that are ready assembled. For example, I spent 2-3 hours assembling a computer desk all by myself and I find it better than a similar study desk that was assembled by my parents! In fact, I enjoy studying more at the computer desk!

Similar principles may be applied when delivering effective patient-centered care. Would involvement of patients  and/or their families during decision-making process of treatment plans improve patients’ treatment adherence? For example, a physician may devise a plan to help his/her diabetic patient to effectively control blood sugar levels. As part of the plan, the physician may recommend the patient to follow a regular exercise regime and special diet. However, having the patient participate in the process of exploring treatment options may be more advantageous than just telling the patient of treatment options.

There are several advantages of including patients during the decision-making process of devising proper treatment plans. First, based on the Ikea effect principle, patients are more likely to accept and adhere to treatments if they are included in the planning process of their treatment interventions. Continue reading