Canada briefs – May 12

A woman whose healthy breast was removed by a Windsor, Ont., surgeon has asked for a review of a decision by the province’s medical regulatory college not to discipline the doctor.

Patient demands review of disciplinary decision

TORONTO — A woman whose healthy breast was removed by a Windsor, Ont., surgeon has asked for a review of a decision by the province’s medical regulatory college not to discipline the doctor.

Dr. Barbara Heartwell became the subject of several investigations after it was revealed she performed unnecessary mastectomies on two women at Windsor’s Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital.

In November 2009, Laurie Johnston of Leamington, Ont., had a mastectomy performed by Heartwell, who admitted she misread the results of a needle biopsy that found Johnston did not have cancer.

Janice Laporte, whose breast was removed by Heartwell in September 2001, was told a week after her surgery that she didn’t have cancer.

The College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario launched investigations into Heartwell and pathologist Dr. Olive Williams, and the college’s spokeswoman now says the Heartwell investigation has been completed.

Kathryn Clarke said the outcome of the investigation can’t be publicly disclosed, but the college did not refer the matter to its discipline committee.


Detained reporter deported to Iran from Syria

VANCOUVER — A Canadian journalist arrested in Syria has been deported to Iran, says her employer, and Dorothy Parvaz’s family in British Columbia is anxiously awaiting any confirmation of her whereabouts.

On Wednesday, a statement from the Al-Jazeera news network said Parvaz has been deported from Syria to Iran, where she also has citizenship, and is now being held in Tehran.

The Qatar-based broadcaster’s English-language network said Syrian officials previously said they were holding the 39-year-old journalist in Damascus, and that she would be released.

“We are calling for information from the Iranian authorities, access to Dorothy, and for her immediate release. We have had no contact with Dorothy since she left Doha on 29 April and we are deeply concerned for her welfare,” said the statement posted on the network’s website.

Parvaz’s father, Fred, who lives in North Vancouver, said someone from Al-Jazeera contacted the family to tell them that Syria sent Dorothy to Iran but that has yet to be confirmed.


Bedbugs from homeless carry superbugs: study

TORONTO — Bedbugs have an ick factor all their own, and now researchers wonder if the pesky critters might also spread serious infections.

A study of patients from Vancouver’s impoverished Downtown Eastside, where bedbug infestations are rising, found some of the insects were carrying two types of drug-resistant bacteria.

Co-author Dr. Marc Romney says five bedbugs taken from three patients admitted to St. Paul’s Hospital were carrying MRSA or VRE.

The medical microbiologist says that while bedbugs have not been shown to spread disease, it appears the blood-sucking insects at least carry bacteria known to cause these often hard-to-treat infections.

Bedbug bites can cause excessive scratching that can break the skin, creating a portal for bacteria to enter the body and cause potentially deadly infections.

Romney says the findings published in Emerging Infectious Diseases is intriguing but extremely preliminary and far more research is needed.

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