An emergency room patient with underlying health conditions in Canada received a one-of-a-kind diagnosis in early June.
Dr. Kyle Merritt diagnosed a woman in her seventies suffering from dehydration, asthma and diabetes with climate change, NBC News reported Friday. The woman lived in a trailer in Nelson, British Colombia, with no air conditioning and faced unbearable summer heat, as Canada experienced temperatures above 100 degrees in 2021.
At the time the woman was hospitalized, the country was dealing with overcrowded hospitals, as smoke from wildfires in both Canada and the United States hit Canadians. The historic temperatures broke several records and killed around 600 people in British Colombia, NBC News reported.
“I think that we’ve learned that climate change is essentially required in order for it to get that hot where we live,” Merritt said, according to NBC News. “Without the heat, she would not have been admitted to hospital. So I thought it was accurate.”
Merritt’s unique diagnosis was mentioned in a statement released by the physician-activist organization “Doctors for Planetary Health,” as they planned a protest in Victoria, British Colombia, and another in Merritt’s hometown of Nelson, the outlet reported.
“It’s a provocative action, but certainly the science is there to substantiate it,” said Dr. Jay Lemery, an emergency medicine physician. Lemery, the co-founder of the University of Colorado School of Medicine’s climate health program, said he is committed to bringing “climate and health data to the bedside.”
Merritt’s received mostly positive feedback after his diagnosis but also said he received some negative phone calls and emails for treating climate change “as a real thing,” according to NBC News. The patient was successfully treated.