Welcome to this week's edition of Health Alert.The Health Alert is transmitted on Monday of each week (unless there is a public holiday on Monday).
Health Alert is a summary of the critical judgments, legislation, press releases and news items which have come to our attention each week.Many of the summaries will contain a hyperlink.
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Western Australia. District Court
This case concerned a claim for damages in relation to the effects of the negligent calibration of an intrathecal pump which caused the plaintiff to suffer an overdose of hydromorphone and which then allegedly resulted in a lumbar disc prolapse. In the District Court of Western Australia the plaintiff, Ms Tracy Smith, was awarded judgment and damages for $237,530.
In this case, the defendant had admitted liability in relation to negligently calibrating the intrathecal pump so that it caused the plaintiff to suffer an overdose of hydromorphone. The plaintiff consequently suffered severe illness for four days from 1 March 2006 to 4 March 2006, including vomiting. What was at issue was whether there was a sufficient casual connection between the injury the plaintiff sustained and the negligent calibration, more specifically, that the plaintiff's lumbo-sacral disc protusion was caused by the vomiting that resulted from the overdose. After this event, the plaintiff required surgery to heal her disc protusion.
In assessing the causal connection the Court took into consideration expert medical evidence (including evidence showing the possibility that a small event such as vomiting could directly cause or aggravate such an injury), hospital records (after the plaintiff had been admitted on various occasions, including on 4 March 2006), the plaintiff's general medical history including her prior history of back pain and accounts from various family members of the plaintiff. The judge held that although the plaintiff did suffer back and leg pain on the evening of 3 March 2006, it was not as severe as alleged and it improved over the following days. Furthermore, although the plaintiff suffered from chronic pain, now including lower back and leg pain, this pain could no longer be attributable to the disc injury but was more part of the plaintiff's general pain presentation, which was also affected by her dependence on narcotics.
The Court awarded the plaintiff damages of $237,530. In making the assessment of damages, the judge took into consideration the fact that the plaintiff, despite the injury, would never have worked in a full time capacity, the plaintiff's prior history of suffering from back pain, her unreliability as a witness in relation to her medical history, her history of overusing narcotics, that there was little evidence that she suffered from severe back pain at the time of the overdose of hydromorphone, and the fact that it was not certain that she would require future medical treatment for her lower back injury.
The damages awarded comprised of $55,000 for non-pecuniary loss, $42,000 for past loss of earning capacity, $5,610 for interest, $100,000 for future loss of earning capacity, $8,800 for past services, and $25,000 for future services.
Health Practitioner Regulation (Consequential Amendments) Act 2010 (No. 48 of 2010) - Assent 31/05/2010 [Not available online yet]
Therapeutic Goods (Charges) Amendment Act 2010 (No. 53 of 2010) - Assent 31/05/2010 [Not available online yet]
Therapeutic Goods Amendment (2009 Measures No. 3) Act 2010 (No. 54 of 2010) Assent 31/05/2010 [Not available online yet]
National Health Amendment (Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme) Bill 2010 - C2010B00117 - Health - A Bill for an Act to amend the National Health Act 1953, and for related purposes
Midwife Professional Indemnity (Commonwealth Contribution) Scheme Rules 2010 - F2010L01548 - Health - These Rules support the establishment of a Government-supported professional indemnity insurance scheme for midwives.
Midwife Professional Indemnity (Run-off Cover Support Payment) Rules 2010 - F2010L01549 - Health - These Rules give effect to the Government's new professional indemnity scheme for eligible midwives.
Instrument of Establishment of the Medical Training Review Panel No. 1 of 2010 - F2010L01418 - Health - This instrument revokes and replaces the Health Insurance Act 1973 - Establishment of the Medical Training Review Panel under subsection 3GC(1) (26/06/1997) and enables the number of members of the Medical Training Review Panel to be increased, provides more flexibility in the arrangements for a deputy chairperson to preside at meetings and adds provisions which are usual for statutory bodies.
National Health Act 1953 - Amendment special arrangements under subsection 100(1) - Chemotherapy Pharmaceuticals Access Program (No. PB 50 of 2010) - F2010L01489 - Health - These Arrangements amend the National Health Act 1953 - Special Arrangements under subsection 100(1) - Chemotherapy Pharmaceuticals Access Program (No. PB 55 of 2009) to provide for the deletion of a form of a chemotherapy pharmaceutical available at public hospitals to non-admitted patients, day-admitted patients or patients on discharge.
National Health Act 1953 - Amendment special arrangements under subsection 100(1) - Highly Specialised Drugs Program (No. PB 49 of 2010) - F2010L01488 - Health - These Arrangements amend the National Health Act 1953 - Special Arrangements under subsection 100(1) - highly specialised drugs program (No. PB 54 of 2009) to provide for the addition of two forms of highly specialised drugs available at private hospitals to non-admitted patients, day admitted patients or patients on discharge.
Health Insurance Act 1973 - Declaration of Quality Assurance Activity under section 124X (QAA No. 1/2010) - F2010L01476 - Health - This instrument declares the National Breast Cancer Audit as a qualified privilege activity.
New South Wales
Health Legislation Amendment Bill 2010 - 2/6/2010 - Intro Assembly
Mental Health (Repeal of Harbouring Offence) Amendment Bill 2010 - private member's Bill, Legislative Council second reading speech on 26 May 2010.
Therapeutic Goods (Victoria) Act 2010 (No. 25 of 2010) - Assent 1/06/2010 Gazette S 200, 1 June 2010
Australia. Department of Health & Ageing
- 04 June 2010- First Comparative Health Information under Australian Reforms-The first baseline data required under the Australian Government's health reforms has been publicly released by the independent COAG Reform Council (CRC).
- 02 June 2010- $1.8 Million for Home Away from Home for Cancer Sufferers-$1.8 million will be provided by the Australian Government to construct an accommodation facility for patients and carers who will use the new Capital Region Cancer Centre in Canberra.
- 02 June 2010- Government Receives Policy Report -The Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, has received a policy report that addresses disparities in hospital care between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and other Australians with acute coronary syndrome.
- 02 June 2010- Healthcare Identifiers-The draft regulations for the national healthcare identifiers have been revised and the Government will propose amendments to the Healthcare Identifiers Bill to respond to issues raised during public consultation.
- 02 June 2010- House Passes Tobacco Excise Legislation-Legislation that will help encourage an estimated 87,000 Australians to quit smoking has been passed in the House of Representatives.
- 01 June 2010- Hand on Heart – It's Time to Call it Quits-A new report has been released that discredits the commonly held belief that heart conditions only affect older men.
- 01 June 2010- Seasonal Flu Vaccine Remains Suspended for young children without risk factors - Advice from the Chief Medical Officer-After consideration of the results to date of a comprehensive investigation into the safety of the seasonal flu vaccine for young children, I have advised, that as a precaution, the suspension of seasonal flu vaccination should continue for healthy children under five years of age.
- 31 May 2010- $5 Million Boost to Quitline-The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon used World No Tobacco Day to announce that the Australian Government will provide $5 million to help support Quitline services around Australia.
- 31 May 2010- An Additional $28 Million to help NSW Residents remain Independent, in their Homes and in their Communities-An extra $28 million for Home and Community Care services in New South Wales was announced on 31 May.
- 31 May 2010- Anti-Tobacco workforce announced on 'World No Tobacco Day'-Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, announced an anti-tobacco workforce will soon roll out in the first 20 of 57 regions around Australia to tackle Indigenous smoking rates.
- 31 May 2010- Reports of Poor Care Being Investigated-Allegations about poor care at Sydney aged care facilities are being investigated by the Aged Care Complaints Investigation Scheme and the independent Aged Care Standards and Accreditation Agency.
- 28 May 2010- $140 Million Funding Boost for Aged Care Services-From 1 July 2010, aged care providers will receive an annual funding boost of more than $140 million through the annual indexation of the care subsidies paid by the Australian Government to residential, community and flexible care services.
- 28 May 2010- Boost to Northern Territory Hearing Health Services-Joint Release - Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Federal Minister for Indigenous Health Warren Snowdon and Northern Territory Minister for Central Australia Karl Hampton announced a $1.8 million funding boost to help improve Indigenous hearing health in the Northern Territory.
- 28 May 2010- Lead Clinicians Groups to deliver a greater say for local health professionals-The Australian Government will invest $58 million to establish Lead Clinicians Groups in Local Hospital Networks and at a national level.
Australia. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
The Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits was updated on 1 June 2010 and the Summary of Changes can be found on the New amended and deleted items page. Detailed information regarding additions and alterations of restrictions is now available in the fact sheet, New Listings and Changes To PBS 1 June 2010.
Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration
Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines (added Caffeine citrate)
Prescription medicines business process reform project (added TGA-Industry Working Group (IWG), outcomes of meeting, 30 April 2010)
Consultation: Draft regulations to implement the revised scheduling framework (added copies of public submissions and feedback to public submissions)
Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council
Fund to Power Stem Cell Science Breakthroughs 1 JUNE 2010 - The Australian Government will establish a stem cell research fund to boost research in a field that may hold the key to curing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and stroke. »View Media Release
NHMRC Tracker 28 May 2010 - NHMRC Strategic Plan for 2010 - 2012 - The NHMRC Strategic Plan for 2010-2012 has been tabled in Parliament (25 May) and released on the NHMRC website. The key objectives of the Plan, reflecting the National Health and Medical Research Council Act 1992, are to:
- Raise the standard of individual and public health throughout Australia.
- Foster the development of consistent health standards between the various States and Territories.
- Foster medical research and training and public health research and training throughout Australia.
- Foster consideration of ethical issues relating to health.
The Plan also sets out the NHMRC's strategy for health and medical research, which can... - See full article...
Australian Institute of Health & Welfare
The health of Australia's prisoners 2009 - The health of Australia's prisoners 2009 is the culmination of several years' development of national indicators in relation to prisoner health in Australia. This first national report shows that prisoners ... Published 3 June 2010.
Women and heart disease: Cardiovascular profile of women in Australia lang="EN-AU">- Cardiovascular disease is Australia's biggest killer. This report focuses on its impact on the health of Australian women - a group who may not be aware of how significant a ... Published 1 June 2010.
Women and heart disease: summary - Cardiovascular disease is Australia's biggest killer. This report provides a summary of cardiovascular disease and its impact on the health of Australian women. Women and heart disease: summary presents the ... Published 1 June 2010.
Australia. National Blood Authority
Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health
ACT Quality in Healthcare Awards (1 June 2010) - Applications are now open for the 2010 round of the ACT Quality in Healthcare Awards.
New South Wales. Department of Health
- Penrith's World Class Hospital Redevelopment Another Step Closer [02 June 2010]
- Minister launches Aboriginal Oral Health Program [02 June 2010]
- Demand For Palliative Care To Rise With An Ageing Population [28 May 2010]
- Smokers Urged to Quit To Boost Health and Finances [31 May 2010]
- HIV rates stable in NSW but increased risk practices are cause for concern [27 May 2010]
- Children and Adolescents - Guidelines for Care in Acute Care Settings PD2010_034 02/06/2010
- Children and Adolescents - Admission to Services Designated Level 1-3 Paediatric Medicine & Surgery PD2010_032 02/06/2010
- Children and Adolescents - Inter-Facility Transfers PD2010_031 02/06/2010
- Critical Care Tertiary Referral Networks (Paediatrics) PD2010_030 02/06/2010
- Children and Adolescents - Safety and Security in NSW Acute Health Facilities PD2010_033 02/06/2010
- Obsolete Policy Directive PD2005_038 IB2010_025 28/05/2010
- Syphilis 25/05/2010
Northern Territory. Department of Health & Community Services
- First meeting for hospital's new board -03 June 2010 - Tennant Creek Hospital Board meets for the first time today (3 June 2010) following the appointment of the six new members in April 2010.
- NT Tobacco Action Plan launches today -31 May 2010 - A four-year action plan to steer tobacco control initiatives in the Northern Territory will be launched today (Monday 31 May 2010) to coincide with World No Tobacco Day.
- Kon Vatskalis - Home Away From Home For Cancer Patients In Darwin - Territorians and their families who travel to Darwin to receive cancer treatment at the Alan Walker Cancer Care Centre (AWCCC) now have a place they can call home.
Queensland. Department of Health
- 31 MAY 2010 Laidley dental clinic upgrade (PDF, 69KB)
- 31 May 2010 Laidley Residents Lighten Up (PDF, 45KB)
- 31 May 2010 Get helpful tips and support for your newborn (PDF, 56KB)
- 31 May 2010 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elders present flags to hospital executives (PDF, 33KB)
- 31 May 2010 Mitchell calls for community advisory network (PDF, 44KB)
- 31 May 2010 Support for mother and daughter on Hendra virus therapy (PDF, 48KB)
- 31 May 2010 Millerman Multi-purpose Health Service Patient turns 100 years old (PDF, 54KB)
- 31 May 2010 Organ donor family raise funds for Toowoomba Hospital (PDF, 56KB)
- 31 May 2010 Lowood Women's Group run information session (PDF, 60KB)
- 31 May 2010 7th Annual Gold Coast Service of Thanksgiving (PDF, 120KB)
- 31 May 2010 Increased specialty services at Mackay Base Hospital (57KB)
- 31 May 2010 Smoking ceremony to cleanse the Community Health Centre on National Sorry Day (PDF, 46KB)
Queensland Tuberculosis Control Program (new site)
South Australia. Department of Health
2 June 2010 - Update on influenza vaccination program for children with medical risk factors (pdf 50kb) - Public Health Information
- Port Pirie blood lead levels - Wednesday, 02 June 2010 - The Minister for Health and the Minister for Environment and Conservation have demanded an explanation and plan of action following an increase in the number of children in Port Pirie with raised levels of lead in their blood. read more...
- New measures to snub out smoking - Monday, 31 May 2010 - The last example of tobacco advertising will be banned in South Australia. Read more...
South Australia. Health & Community Services Complaints Commissioner
Victoria. Department of Health
- Three Legionnaires' Disease cases at Doncaster Published: - 03/06/2010
- Paving The Way For Box Hill Hospital Redevelopment Published: - 03/06/2010
- Ear Checks Build A Sound Future For Aboriginal Children In Darebin Published: - 02/06/2010
- Healthy Step Forward For Diabetic Foot Care In Dandenong Published: - 01/06/2010
- Government To Butt Out Fruit Flavoured Cigarettes Published: - 31/05/2010
- Update On Hepatitis C Lookback - 31.5.10 Published: - 31/05/2010
VICNISS - eBulletin - Please click here for the most recent eBulletin distributed in June.
Healthy choices - 31 May 2010 - The Victorian Government has released 'Healthy Choices: Food and drink guidelines for Victorian public hospitals'.
Western Australia. Department of Health
- GPs to get clarity on flu vaccination as investigations continue 03 Jun 2010Hames
- Call for private interest in building multi-storey car parks at QEII Medical Centre 02 Jun 2010Hames
- Aboriginal health funding boost in the Great Southern 01 Jun 2010Hames
- Fiona Stanley Hospital a step closer after final designs completed 30 May 2010Hames
- New partnership in suicide prevention 29 May 2010Jacobs
- $14.9million expansion of critical care at Bunbury Hospital 28 May 2010Hames
New Zealand. Ministry of Health
4 Jun: Seroprevalence of the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic in New Zealand - The Ministry commissioned study, conducted by ESR, estimates that 1.26 million or 29% of New Zealanders were immune to the pandemic influenza virus by March this year.
3 Jun: Review of pharmacy recalls- The Minister of Health has announced a review of pharmacy recalls that will be completed within a month.
3 Jun: Methodology Report for the 2007/08 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey - The 2007/08 New Zealand Alcohol and Drug Use Survey (NZADUS) measured self-reported alcohol, illicit and other drug use for recreational purposes.
New Zealand. Medsafe
Letter to Healthcare Professionals - Changes to the classification and labelling requirements for codeine-containing products
United States of America. Department of Health & Human Services
HHS Awards $83.9 Million in Recovery Act Funds to Expand Use of Health Information Technology - HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced $83.9 million in grants to help networks of health centers adopt electronic health records (EHR) and other health information technology (HIT) systems.
HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius Statement on Progress in Prevention of Healthcare-Associated Infections
Australian Medical Association
Tax relief for rural doctors 3 June 2010 - The AMA today welcomed the Government's updated advice that revised rural incentive payments to rural doctors will not be subject to 46.5 per cent PAYE withholding tax.
More support needed for doctors working in aged care 31 May 2010 - lang="EN-AU">The AMA today called for more Government support for doctors to provide medical care to frail, elderly residents in aged care facilities. AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said that he is not surprised by the alarming reports of poor care being delivered in some residential aged care facilities and that our senior citizens deserve better.
AMA National Conference 2010 - President's Award 28 May 2010 - lang="EN-AU">AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, tonight presented the AMA President's Award to Queensland obstetrician and gynaecologist, Professor Caroline de Costa. The President's Award is given to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution towards fostering the objectives of the AMA in pursuit of a better health system for Australia.
AMA National Conference 2010 - Excellent work by State and Territory AMAs recognised 28 May 2010 - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, tonight presented the Presidents and CEOs of the State and Territory AMA organisations with awards for outstanding work in lobbying and communication. The categories for the awards were Best State Publication, Most Innovative Use of Website or New Media, Best Lobby Campaign, and Best Public Health Campaign.
Stronger voice for doctors in running public hospitals 28 May 2010 - lang="EN-AU">AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that doctors would have a stronger voice in the management of public hospitals following the Government's announcement of Lead Clinicians Groups in Local Hospital Networks. Dr Pesce said the AMA had been seeking clarification of promised greater clinician input to public hospital decision-making since the Government announced its Local Hospital Networks policy. "Doctors are best placed to know the needs of clinicians, other health professionals and patients in public hospitals," Dr Pesce said.
AMA National Conference 2010 Presidential Statement 28 May 2010 - lang="EN-AU">I can say with confidence that we have been engaged and we remain engaged. We are not beholden to the Government – we advise the Government. This does not mean that we get everything we want, nor does it mean we are ignored or paid lip service. Engagement has delivered positive outcomes for the AMA, the medical profession, and our patients.
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