James Downar is a Critical Care and Palliative Care Staff Physician at the Toronto General Hospital. He graduated from McGill Medical School and completed residency programs in Internal Medicine, Critical Care Medicine, and Palliative Care Medicine at the University of Toronto. He also completed a Master’s degree in Bioethics at the Joint Centre for Bioethics at the University of Toronto. His research interests focus on communication and decision-making for seriously ill patients, as well as expanding the role of palliative care in the critical care environment and for non-cancer illnesses. He is the current chair of the Postgraduate Education Committee of the Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians.
Industry Expertise (5)
Areas of Expertise (5)
University of Toronto, Joint Centre for Bioethics: M.Sc., Bioethics
McGill Medical School: Residency, Internal Medicine, Critical Care and Palliative Care
McGill Medical School: MD, Medicine
- Canadian Society of Palliative Care Physicians : Chair, Postgraduate Education Committee
- Critical Care Canada : Scientific Faculty
Media Appearances (4)
'Physician-assisted death is going to become legal': Canada's right-to-die debate almost over, doctors say
National Post online
The debate “is about to become obsolete,” said Dr. James Downar, a critical care and palliative care physician at Toronto General Hospital. “Physician-assisted death is going to become legal in Canada in the very near future by one means or another and crucial questions need to be answered,” he said, including when does suffering become “intolerable” and how long must it last before doctor-assisted death could be granted? Would psychological or “existential” angst be grounds for seeking a lethal injection?
Dr James Downar: death is as precious as life
He seems far too young to be dedicated to minimizing suffering at life's end, but that is, indeed, Dr Downar's mission. His three specialties are inter-related: critical care, ethics and palliative care. Palliative care changes the focus from cure to comfort. This sensibility doesn't fit with the military language often used in healthcare situations: battling, fighting, giving up, winning, losing. Dr Downar's take puts that tough language into 'life's end' perspective...
Saving Death is as Important as Saving Life Says UHN Palliative Physician
Dr. James Downar is a thoughtful, engaged and passionate teacher. Especially about death—or palliative care to be precise. When he first started medical school at McGill, Dr. Downar stated definitely in his goals that he was not interested in palliative care. But working with palliative care physicians and caring for dying patients convinced him otherwise. Dr. James Downar.jpgAfter graduating in 2002, he now has three specialties: palliative care, critical care and ethics. He brings all three together in his work at the ICU and on the palliative care service at TGH...
Teaching doctors a new approach to the end-of-life process
The Globe and Mail online
Designed by James Downar, a critical care and palliative care physician at Toronto General Hospital, the unique program is part of a growing push among members of the medical community to revamp the way doctors, patients and families approach the end-of-life process. Many patients die uncomfortable, sometimes painful, deaths in the intensive care unit when they could have benefited from the support of palliative care. The reluctance to confront the inevitability of death and continuing to pursue aggressive treatment can do unnecessary harm to patients and relatives during what is already an extremely difficult period, according to Dr. Downar...
Event Appearances (2)
Non-beneficial Treatment in Canada following the Resouli Decision
PEI Palliative Care Conference and Long Term Care Conference Summerside, PEI
Oral Ketamine for Chronic Pain
CANMAT Mood & Brain Conference Toronto, ON.
BACKGROUND The majority of patients who die in hospital have a “Do Not Resuscitate”(DNR) order in place at the time of their death, yet we know very little about why some patients request or agree to a DNR order, why others don't, and how they view ...
Background: Patients and clinicians often find it difficult to discuss wishes regarding cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) or “code status.” Some authors have published effective communication styles, but there are currently no published guidelines for the ...
Background: Many caregivers in intensive care units (ICUs) feel that they sometimes provide inappropriate or excessive care, but little is known about their definition of “futile care” or how they attempt to limit its impact. We sought to explore how ICU staff define medically ...
Abstract Mechanical ventilation is the cornerstone of therapy for patients with acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS). Paradoxically, mechanical ventilation can exacerbate lung damage–a phenomenon known as ventilator-induced lung injury. While new ...
ABSTRACT We report a case of group C streptococcal meningitis in a woman with a history of close animal contact as well as head trauma as a result of a kick by a horse. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid cultures grew Streptococcus equi subsp. zooepidemicus, as did a ...