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.
If an item is of special interest, we may insert commentary into the body of Health Alert. However in general, Health Alert is a quick and effective means of ensuring that you are aware of significant recent changes with little or no commentary from ourselves.
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The DLA Phillips Fox Health Team
New South Wales. Administrative Decisions Tribunal
PRIVACY – Workplace doctor's letter of referral to complainant's general practitioner – Whether personal information disclosed without consent – Tribunal held no contravention – Appeal – Order as to costs – Appeal – Both appeals dismissed, PRIVACY – Request by complainant for access to witness statements connected with disciplinary investigation – Whether "excessive delay" in dealing with request – Tribunal held no contravention – Appeal dismissed – Privacy and Personal Information Protection Act 1998, s 14
New South Wales. Medical Tribunal
24/08/10: Lucire,Yolande (Judgement)
27/08/10: Lucire, Yolande (Orders)
The Medical Tribunal considered allegations against a psychiatrist of unsatisfactory professional conduct and/or professional misconduct in relation to treatment of a patient. The patient, who she saw in intervals between 16 November 2006 and 25 January 2007, then on a 'needs' basis until 5 July 2007, suffered from mental health issues. The patient's mood and behaviour fluctuated, and in mid-2007 her condition deteriorated. At one stage, the psychiatrist suspended the anti-psychotic medication previously prescribed to the patient. The psychiatrist had limited communication with the patient's general practitioner concerning her condition and ongoing management.
The Tribunal found that the psychiatrist was guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct. It held that the practitioner failed to institute or recommend an adequate treatment plan nor assess the potential risks associated with the patient's deteriorating mental health and enlist the aid of Community Mental Health Services and the general practitioner.
Importantly, the Tribunal held that the psychiatrist's advice to suspend the anti-psychotic medication prescribed to the patient and failure to hospitalise the patient following the deterioration of her condition was a serious departure from accepted standards of psychiatric practice.
By order of the Tribunal the psychiatrist was no longer permitted to treat, manage or advise patients, and had her practise restricted to providing medico-legal reports.
New South Wales. Nurses & Midwives Tribunal
The Nurses and Midwives Tribunal of New South Wales ('Tribunal') heard a complaint brought by the Health Care Complaints Commission ('HCCC') against a registered nurse (the nurse) for allegedly engaging in inappropriate sexual conduct towards three staff members of one of the places at which he worked, namely Gna Ka Lun Unit (Adolescent Mental Health Unit) ('GKL'), and was a mentor to junior staff. The HCCC alleged that the Nurse was guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct, which the Tribunal accepted. The Tribunal held that the Nurse's behaviour was well below the standard reasonably expected of a nurse of an equivalent level of training or expertise and that it was improper and unethical conduct relating to the practice of nursing and was not conduct acceptable in the workplace or community generally.
The HCCC submitted that the Nurse was not of good character, which the Tribunal dismissed because of no supporting evidence.
Although the Tribunal found that the Nurse used his position as a senior nurse for his own sexual gratification, it supported the issue of a reprimand. The Tribunal suggested that whilst this might appear lenient, the Nurse's conduct was a serious example of unsatisfactory professional conduct and in different circumstances would result in a protective order with more stringent and immediate effects an offending nurse's career.
"By this interim application made in the context of 'capacity' and 'best interests' proceedings in the Court of Protection, a Local Authority seeks Declarations (i) that a young married woman whom I will call "Mrs A" lacks capacity to decide whether to use contraception and (ii) that it would be in her interests for her to be required to receive it. Whilst the Local Authority reserves the right to argue that the administration of such contraception should if necessary be achieved by orders authorising the use of force, restraint and anaesthesia, it merely seeks a Declaration for now that it would be in Mrs A's best interest to receive contraception, subject to her consent. Both Mr and Mrs A (the latter through Official Solicitor, her Litigation Friend) maintain that Mrs A has capacity to decide not to use contraception and they oppose the Declarations sought."
National Health Act 1953 - Amendment declaration and determination under subsections 85(2) and 85(2AA) - drugs and medicinal preparations (No. PB 91 of 2010) - F2010L02438 - Health - This Declaration amends the National Health Act 1953 -Declaration under subsections 85(2) and 85(2AA) - Determination under subsection 85(2A) - drugs and medicinal preparations (No. PB 14 of 2010) to declare that 'ganirelix' is a drug to be included in the arrangements for providing that an adequate supply of certain special pharmaceutical products will be available to persons receiving in vitro fertilisation or gamete intra-fallopian transfer treatment.
North-West Regional Hospital (Radiation Oncology Services) Bill 2010 - House of Assembly on 24 August 2010
Health Services (Private Hospitals and Day Procedure Centres) Amendment Regulations 2010(No. 88 of 2010) - commenced 7/09/2010
Mental Health Amendment Regulations 2010 No. 81 - commenced on 24 August 2010.
Australia. Department of Health & Ageing
Private Health Insurance Circulars
PHI 56/10 - Hospital Information
Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council
Australian Institute of Health & Welfare
2010 Pandemic Vaccination Survey: summary results - This report presents results from the 2010 Pandemic Vaccination Survey conducted in January and February 2010 by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. The report provides estimates of swine ... Published 10 September 2010.
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
03 September 2010 - Draf tNational Safety and Quality Health Service Standards
A pilot study of new draft Standards on Safety will commence in early 2011. The pilot will involve representative organisations from a range of private and public health service providers. The Commission is currently identifying participants for the Pilot Study. If you would like to nominate your organisation to participate in the Pilot Study, contact the Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
In November 2010, the Commission will submit to Health Ministers a package of reforms for accreditation that includes the Standards and their use in the Model National Accreditation Scheme. If approved by Ministers, it is proposed that implementation would commence in July 2011.
Australian Competition & Consumer Commission
ACCC allows Vision Group clinics to discuss, agree on fees - The ACCC has granted authorisation to Vision Group Holdings Limited to allow employees and ophtha ... Issued: 8th September 2010 Release #NR 181/10
Australia. Private Health Insurance Administration Council
10/18 07 Sept 10 - Industry Consultation – Proposed Disclosure Standard for Private Health Insurers - CURRENT EDITION 10/18
10/17 03 Sept 10 - Acting Commissioner - CURRENT EDITION 10/17
Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health
Let's Talk for Suicide Prevention Katy Gallagher, MLA September 9 2010
Minister announces funding round for local health and medical researchers Katy Gallagher, MLA September 7 2010
Breast Cancer Treatment Group ten year report released Katy Gallagher, MLA September 3 2010
Blood And Fresh Blood Product Administration - The purpose of this document is to provide a systematic and consistent approach for the safe and appropriate transfusion of Blood and Fresh Blood Products across the ACT. This document provides clear direction for nursing and medical staff in relation to administration of blood and fresh blood products to adults. Staff employed within ACT Health must comply fully with the Blood and Fresh Blood Product Administration Policy of ACT Health - Population health CED10-026 Blood And Fresh Blood Products Administration (PDF File 800k)
Let's Talk Suicide Prevention - 9.9.10 - Help reduce the stigma of suicide and mental illness, by understanding it's okay to talk about suicide.
ACT Health Promotion Awards (6 September 2010) - Nominations are sought for the ACT 2010 Health Promotion Awards, but hurry - they close soon!
New South Wales. Department of Health
Health Minister announces state nursing home tender outcomes [08 September 2010]
Policy directives & guidelines
Human Research Ethics Committee:Operations Manual GL2010_013 08/09/2010
Research Governance Officers: Operations Manual GL2010_015 08/09/2010
Research, Human and Animal and the National Health & Medical Research Council Act 1992 PD2010_057 08/09/2010
Research - Authorisation to Commence Human Research in NSW Public Health Organisations PD2010_056 08/09/2010
Business Activity Statement Procedures - NSW Health Standards GL2010_012 07/09/2010
Pension Based - Scale of Fees IB2010_048 07/09/2010
New South Wales. Bureau of Health Information
Release of NSW public hospitals performance report released 10 September 2010.
Backgrounder released 10 September 2010.
Northern Territory. Department of Health &Families
Kon Vatskalis - All Territory Newborns Now Have Their - All Territory babies will have their hearing tested at birth with the introduction of a new universal hearing program, Health Minister Kon Vatskalis announced today.
Delia Lawrie - New TV Campaign for New Alcohol Reforms - New television advertisements detailing the most comprehensive reforms in the Territory's history to curb antisocial violence and behaviour will begin screening tonight.
Kon Vatskalis - No Barriers a Disability Priority for NT Government - A program that enables people with disabilities to learn new skills and engage in meaningful activities outside their care environment has been launched by Health Minister Kon Vatskalis, as part of Disability Awareness Week.
Kon Vatskalis - Ochre Card Needed By Adults Who Work With Children - Child protection in the Territory took an important step forward today with the introduction of the new 'Ochre Card', which indicates that the holder has been officially cleared to work with children in a professional or volunteer capacity.
Queensland. Department of Health
South Australia. Department of Health
Kangaroo Island obstetric review - Wednesday, 08 September 2010 - Health Minister John Hill has welcomed the findings of a review of obstetric services on Kangaroo Island. Minister Hill said the review found the maternity service on Kangaroo Island is safe, efficient and should continue. Read more...
8 September 2010 - Eye irritation at Royal Adelaide Show (PDF 36KB) - Public Health Alert
Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services
Victoria. Department of Health
6 September 2010 - Heavy rain across Victoria over the weekend has caused flooding in many areas. Floods have the potential to impact on your health and well-being and that of your family and your community. The Flood Recovery pages give practical advice on what you can do before, during and after flooding. For further information visit Department of Human Services Emergency Management.
Hospital circular - Publication Number 18 / 2010 - 8 September 2 010 - Highly Specialised Drugs Program
Western Australia. Department of Health
8 September 2010 - Get ready for changes to smoking laws
06 Sep 2010 Barnett, Jacobs Continued progress at Kalgoorlie Health Campus
06 Sep 2010 Barnett, Grylls, Johnson, Marmion $120million for emergency services and mobile telephone network
New Zealand. Ministry of Health
9 Sep: Alcohol and Pregnancy: A practical guide for health professionals - A short resource to encourage and promote good practice around alcohol in pregnancy that includes information on the potential consequences of drinking in pregnancy, a practical three-step guide, information on making referrals, further learning opportunities and resources.
United Kingdom. Department of Health
Canada. Health Canada
United States of America. Department of Health & Human Services
Program cuts red tape for volunteer health professionals - To make volunteering in an emergency easier for health professionals, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response launched a national website today for the Emergency System for Advance Registration of Volunteer Health Professionals (ESAR-VHP).
Australian Medical Association
Practical steps to improve Indigenous health 9 September 2010 - 3:00pm - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that all parties and Independents in the new Parliament have a unique opportunity to work together to make real improvements in health outcomes and living conditions for Indigenous Australians. Dr Pesce – accompanied by AMA Vice President, Dr Steve Hambleton, and AMA NT President, Dr Paul Bauert – has been in the Northern Territory this week meeting with health service providers and non-government organisations (NGOs) and visiting communities to experience firsthand the delivery of health services to Indigenous Australians at the local level through successful models of care.
New Government must move forward on health reform 8 September 2010 - 12:00pm - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, today congratulated Prime Minister Julia Gillard on securing a minority Labor Government and urged her to put the health reform process at the top of her second term agenda. Dr Pesce said that the health system and the health workforce remain under enormous pressure and in great need of the new funding and resources from the COAG Agreement and recent election promises.
High hospitaloccupancy levels are making us sick 5 September 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA media release - High bed occupancy and emergency department (ED) overcrowding are bad for patients, staff and the system itself, according to an editorial in the Medical Journal of Australia. In the editorial, Dr Sally McCarthy, President of the Australasian College for Emergency Medicine and Director of Emergency Medicine at, Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, discusses hospital occupancy levels and ED overcrowding. Dr McCarthy said that reducing the number of hospital beds, and increasing occupancy above 85 per cent in the name of operational efficiency, has clearly had a negative effect, as the demand for hospital beds in Australia exceeds supply.
Codeine-ibuprofen misuse results in serious morbidity 5 September 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA media release - Although codeine-ibuprofen can be considered a relatively weak opioid analgesic, it is nevertheless addictive and more research is needed to develop health care responses to its misuse, according to an article in the Medical Journal of Australia. Dr Matthew Frei, Clinical Head at Southern and Eastern Health Alcohol and Drug Services and Adjunct Senior Lecturer at the School of Psychology and Psychiatry, Monash University, Melbourne, and co-authors investigated morbidity related to the misuse of over-the-counter (OTC) codeine-ibuprofen analgesics between May 2005 and December 2008. Twenty seven patients with serious morbidity were studied. On average, the patients were taking daily doses of 435-602mg of codeine phosphate and 6800-9400mg ibuprofen.
More work needed to implement evidence base in psycho oncology in cancer care 5 September 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA media release - An integrated approach to cancer care needs to be developed in Australia that incorporates psychosocial and biological interventions, according to an article published in a Medical Journal of Australia supplement. The Anxiety, Depression and Cancer supplement is the product of a partnership between beyondblue and the Cancer Council Australia. Professor David Clarke, of the School of Psychology and Psychiatry at Monash University, Melbourne, and Research Advisor at beyondblue, said that despite the development of an evidence base in the field of psycho oncology in the past few decades, clinical practice lagged behind evidence and standards of best practice.
Increased risk of second cancers and earlier death for childhood cancer survivors 5 September 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA media release - Progress in childhood cancer is a good news story. Children treated for cancer have an overall 70-80 per cent cure rate. As the numbers of survivors of childhood cancer increases, studies of the long-term survivors allow research that can guide newer treatment protocols and further improve the outlook for newly diagnosed patients. Compared with the general population, survivors of childhood cancer in Australia are at an increased risk of second cancers and an earlier death, according to an article published in the Medical Journal of Australia, which looked at a group of survivors treated between 1970 and 1999.
Surgery complications can be reduced through the use of consultant-led models 5 September 2010 - 12:00pm - MJA media release - The acute care surgery (ACS) model, which is consultant-led, provides a safe surgical environment for patients and is associated with a reduced complication rate, according to an article in the Medical Journal of Australia. Dr Robert Gandy, Surgical Registrar at the Prince of Wales Hospital, Sydney, and co-authors conducted a retrospective historical control study, comparing appendicectomy outcomes for the ACS model with the traditional on-call (Trad) model. Dr Gandy said that the ACS model, when compared with the Trad model, resulted in reduced complication rates and fewer operations after midnight.
President's Blog, Friday 3 September 2010 3 September 2010 - 1:00pm - Like the rest of the nation, we are still waiting to see who will form minority Government following the tightest election since 1961. Regardless of the outcome, there is no doubt about the level of influence that the AMA had on health policy leading into and during the election campaign. Our Key Health Issues document and our regular media commentary on the election commitments not only helped shape the major parties' policies, it influenced the media and public reaction to those policies. The important thing for the AMA is that we remained engaged with both sides of politics. We had direct contact with Prime Minister Gillard, Opposition Leader Abbott, Health Minister Roxon, Shadow Health Minister Dutton, and their advisers. As a result, we had more influence on the health policies of both sides of politics than any other organisation leading up to the election.
GP Network News Issue 10, Number 31 - 3 September 2010 3 September 2010 - 4:00pm - Australia can learn from NGOs about improving Indigenous health; Standards for general practices; Ethical guidelines for conducting independent medical assessments; Guidelines on disclosing medical records to third parties; Decision support kit for doctors; Remote Vocational Training Scheme; Support Family Doctors petition
British Medical Association
Power of perceptions - What progress has been made in the year since publication of the report of the National Working Group on Women in Medicine?
NHS approves rapid-response reports -Reports alert healthcare professionals to life-threatening issues
BMA wants foundation job guarantee for UK graduates - Foundation programme office and Department of Health says 2011 recruitment round is expected to be oversubscribed
Canadian Medical Association
World Health Organization
Improving developing countries'access to medical devices - 9 September 2010 -- The benefits of medical devices - which range from high-cost, high-tech equipment such as linear accelerators to treat cancer to stethoscopes and wheelchairs, pacemakers and prostheses - are unevenly and unfairly distributed globally. Health experts from over 100 countries are meeting to review new evidence and agree ways to improve developing country access to life-saving medical devices. Read the note for the media on the Global Forum on Medical Devices - Read the fact sheet on medical devices
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