7 March 2011
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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The DLA Phillips Fox Health Team
Australia. Federal Court
This Federal Court decision concerned whether representations that a diet and exercise "program" could be followed to cure cancer were misleading and deceptive. The respondent had represented on the internet that a reduced intake of glucose combined with an increased intake of laetrile, also (known as amygdalin, also referred to as "vitamin B17") and an exercise program recommended by him were more effective in treating cancer than pharmaceutical drugs, radium therapy, surgery and chemotherapy.
The Court found that such statements were not based on sufficient medical evidence to support the kind of intuitive reasoning outlined in EMI (Australia) Ltd v Bes (namely that if medical science is prepared to say that it is a possible view then a judge, after examining the lay evidence, may decide that it is probable).
Accordingly the court found the respondent guilty of misleading and deceptive conduct, restraining the respondent from making future advertisements until his assertions were supported by sufficient medical evidence.
New South Wales. Medical Tribunal
24/02/2011: Millard, Elizabeth.
In this case, the New South Wales Medical Tribunal had to respond to various complaints of professional misconduct that were admitted by the medical practitioner concerned. The Tribunal heard that the practitioner's lack of family ties had led her to form a family-like relationship with a family who were all patients of her practice. The family and practitioner also attended church together.
The patient mother began writing to the practitioner, expressing her depression, before eventually attempting to overdose on Noctec tables. The patient mother and the practitioner then commenced a sexual relationship at the patient's initiation.
The Tribunal noted the practitioner's failure to prevent the crossing of doctor/patient boundaries, as well as the fact that the practitioner provided narcotics and did not refer the mother patient to appropriate services despite the patient's evident addiction to narcotics. The Tribunal reprimanded the practitioner, suspending her registration for six months and subjecting the practitioner to restrictive conditions during the period of suspension, which included regular meetings with a supervisor and prohibitions on prescribing medication.
Australia. Administrative Appeals Tribunal
Re MARK LAWRENCE and MINISTER FOR HEALTH AND AGEING  AATA 75
JURISDICTION – Therapeutic Goods Administration – power for review under the Therapeutic Goods Act 1992 – interests affected – notice in writing – custom-made medical device – therapeutic devices – medical devices – criminal sanctions – initial decision – reviewable decision – registration
New South Wales. Nursing & Midwifery Tribunal
McWhinney v Melbourne Health  VSCA 22
NEGLIGENCE – Action for damages in negligence for detention as an involuntary patient under the Mental Health Act 1986 – Self-represented litigant – Role of trial judge when litigant is unrepresented – Trial judge made clear to appellant the need for medical evidence – Whether trial judge's conduct gave rise to reasonable apprehension of bias – Balance between obligation on trial judge to assist self-represented litigant to elicit relevant evidence and need to remain impartial – Whether trial judge should have adjourned the trial on his own motion, without the consent of the appellant – Whether trial judge should have allowed appellant to continue with opening statement – Trial judge introduced inadmissible material during examination of the appellant – Trial judge's questioning of appellant amounted to cross-examination – Procedural unfairness which bore upon issues in controversy – New trial ordered.
National Health (Listed drugs on F1 or F2) Amendment Determination 2011 (No. 3) (No. PB 20 of 2011) F2011L00323 " PB 20 of 2011 as made
National Health (Chemotherapy Pharmaceuticals Access Program) Special Arrangement Amendment Instrument 2011 (No. 2) (No. PB 17 of 2011) F2011L00321 " PB 17 of 2011 as made
National Health (Highly specialised drugs program for hospitals) Special Arrangement Amendment Instrument 2011 (No. 2) (No. PB 16 of 2011) F2011L00316 " PB 16 of 2011 as made
New South Wales
ASSISTED REPRODUCTIVE TECHNOLOGY AMENDMENT REGULATION 2011 - Made: 2/3/2011
Mental Health Amendment Regulation 2011 No. 94 - commenced on 25 February 2011.
Health And Community Services Complaints Amendment Bill - introduced into the Legislative Assembly on 24 February 2011.
SEVERE SUBSTANCE DEPENDENCE TREATMENT REGULATIONS 2011 - Commencement: 1/3/2011
Australia. Department of Health & Ageing
03 March 2011- Additional Funding for Home and Community Care Services in Victoria-Older Victorians who live in their own homes will benefit this year from an $11.9 million boost to aged care services provided to them across the state through the Home and Community Care (HACC) program - a joint initiative of the federal and state government.
03 March 2011- Agreement Reached with Australian Unity-The Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon, has completed the approvals for applications from all insurers, following further negotiations with Australian Unity––the final insurer to have its revised premium approved.
01 March 2011- IBM Selected for E-health Authentication Service-The National E-Health Transition Authority has selected IBM to design and build the National Authentication Service for Health, a key building block in developing personally controlled e-health records for Australia.
01 March 2011- Work to begin on new Tennant Creek Sobering Up Shelter- Work will soon start on a new purpose-built shelter in Tennant Creek to provide high-quality care and supervision for people who need somewhere to sober up.
28 February 2011- Extra $47 Million to Help People in Queensland Retain their Independence-Older Queenslanders who live in their own homes will benefit from a $47 million boost to aged care services provided to them across the state this year through the Home and Community Care (HACC) program - a joint initiative of the federal and state governments.
28 February 2011- Getting Information about Medicines and Medical Devices Made Easier-Australians will now be able to more easily find information about medicines and medical devices approved for use by the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA), Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, has announced.
28 February 2011- Record Investment in Specialist Doctor Training -A record number of specialist doctors have started work in Australian Government-supported training places as part of a $356 million commitment to boost specialist doctors across the country.
25 February 2011- Improved Services for Young People with Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Problems-Young people aged 12 and over with co-existing mental health and alcohol and other drug conditions will benefit from a project researching improved services and pathways of care in South Australia's northern suburbs.
25 February 2011- Ministerial Council On Drug Strategy- Ministers responsible for illegal and legal drugs met in Perth on 25 February to tackle some of the big issues facing governments and the community with regard to the harms caused by drugs and alcohol.
Private Health Insurance Circular
Australia. Clinical Trials Action Group
The CTAG report 'Clinically competitive: boosting the business of clinical trials in Australia' was released by Ministers Carr and Roxon on 2 March 2011. View the CTAG report Clinically competitive: boosting the business of clinical trials in Australia [ PDF 543KB] [ RTF 267KB]
Australia. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme
1 March 2011 - The Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits was updated on 1 March 2011 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 1 March 2011.
The following updates have also been made to the PBS Website:
Australia. Productivity Commission
Disability Care and Support - The Commission's draft inquiry report into Disability Care and Support was released on 28 February 2011 for comment.
Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration
Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines (updated) *Buprenorphine/Naloxone *Human Papillomavirus Quadrivalent Vaccine *Ofatumuma
Getting information about medicines and medical devices made easier (new) media release, The Hon Catherine King MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing
Breast screening devices (updated)
Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council
$24 Million for Six of the Best Researchers in Australia 4 March 2011 - Six world-class researchers were recognised today with the presentation of the 2011 NHMRC Australia Fellowships by Mark Butler, Minister for Mental Health and Ageing. The National Health and Medical Research Council Australia Fellowships are awarded to outstanding health and medical researchers, who have leading international status in their field. View Media Release
Inaugural Award Encourages Innovators in Health and Medical Research 4 March 2011 - Two Australian researchers are the recipients of a new award allowing them to challenge medical orthodoxy and follow in the footsteps of pioneering researchers and Nobel Prize winners Barry Marshall and Robin Warren. View Media Release
RGMS Update - 3 March 2011 - Revised closing dates for TRIPs and CREs, opening of Early Career Fellowships, minimum data requirements for Project Grants, and updated contact hours for the Research Help Centre. Read full notice
Report boosts clinical trials efforts 3 March 2011 - The Gillard Labor Government has accepted the recommendations of the Clinical Trials Action Group report. The changes that will occur will boost pharmaceutical research and development (R&D) and improve the clinical trials approval process. Minister for Health and Ageing Nicola Roxon welcomed the report as an important driver in keeping Australian clinicians at the cutting edge of medical science. View Media Release
Australian Institute of Health & Welfare
2009 Adult Vaccination Survey: summary results 3 March 2011
Australia. National E-Health Transition Authority
Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care
Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency
Medical Board presents to Parliamentary Inquiry - 25 February 2011
Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health
22% increase in babies born in the ACT Katy Gallagher, MLA March 3 2011
A partnership designed to save lives Katy Gallagher, MLA March 2 2011
ACT Health assisting schools to reduce obesity Katy Gallagher, MLA March 1 2011
Positive retail trade results Katy Gallagher, MLA March 1 2011
Hospital expansion: Discussion paper out Katy Gallagher, MLA February 25 2011
Maternal and Perinatal Health in the ACT (3 March 2011) - This publication provides an overview of trends in maternal and perinatal health in the ACT from 1999 to 2008.
Expanding Hospital Services in the ACT (25 February 2011) - ACT Health has commenced community consultation on a plan for an additional 400 hospital beds in the ACT.
New South Wales. Department of Health
Health Warning to Avoid Mosquitoes [2 March 2011]
Celebrating our Volunteers [25 February 2011]
New family support services in the Illawarra and New England [3 March 2011]
NSW Government commits $10 million towards Armidale Hospital [3 March 2011]
Supporting Better Health Outcomes in GLBT Community [2 March 2011]
Refugee Health Plan 2011-2016 PD2011_014 28/02/2011
Northern Territory. Department of Health & Families
Kon Vatskalis - CLP Position on Katherine Renal Facility Unacceptable - Health Minister Kon Vatskalis has hit out at the CLP for launching a scaremongering campaign targeting sick Territorians set to receive life saving renal dialysis treatment
Kon Vatskalis - Our Public Health Spend Is Four Times National Average - Health Minister Kon Vatskalis has welcomed a national report that shows the Territory Government spends four times the national average on public health activities and promotions than any other jurisdiction in Australia.
Queensland. Department of Health
28/02/2011 Expanded Robina Hospital one step closer
28/02/2011 ROBINA HEALTH PRECINCT CONTRACTOR ANNOUNCED
25/02/2011 NEW MINISTER PUTS PATIENTS FIRST
South Australia. Department of Health
03 March 2011 - Mt Gambier Hospital Theatre Review
25 February 2011 - Rotavirus vaccination and intussusception
Helping smokers to quit and stay quit - Wednesday, 02 March 2011 - Health Minister John Hill has announced new measures to help smokers give up, help ex-smokers stay on track and reduce everyone's exposure to cigarette smoke. Read more...
Sharp and to the Point - February 2011 (PDF 171Kb) - Newsletter
Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services
Victoria. Department of Health
Call to Canberra On bowel cancer funding - Thursday 3 March 2011 - The Federal Government must ensure that all Victorians over 50 are offered screening for bowel cancer, the Health Minister, David Davis said today. And he urged the Commonwealth to continue the life saving National Bowel Screening Program beyond June 30 this year.
Small parcels of good things - Thursday 3 March 2011 - Patients with Parkinson's disease are set to enjoy big benefits from tiny technologies, thanks to an innovative Victorian Government program. At the launch of the AusBiotech Business Development Forum, Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips last night announced Global Kinetics Corporation Pty Ltd as one of three companies to be awarded a Small Technologies Industry Uptake Program Voucher, worth more than $200,000.
Minister welcomes new paramedics - Wednesday 2 March 2011 - Health Minister David Davis and Ambulance Victoria CEO Greg Sassella welcomed 129 new paramedics at a graduation ceremony last night. Minister Davis said the deployment of these newest paramedics would assist the existing workforce in towns and suburbs across the state, and recognised the importance of having people on the ground delivering services to local communities.
Health professionals given new laws to intervene and help those with severe drug dependence - Wed 2 March 2011 - New laws will provide better support for people with a severe drug or alcohol dependency who, as a result of their dependency, are causing serious harm to themselves, Mental Health Minister Mary Wooldridge said today. Ms Wooldridge said the Severe Substance Dependence Treatment Act, which came into effect from Tuesday 1 March, provides for a health intervention of last resort when all other voluntary forms of treatment have not worked.
Review into Portland District Health - Tuesday 1 March 2011 - Health Minister David Davis has commissioned an independent review of Portland District Health. The purpose of the review is to consider the overall effectiveness of the systems, procedures and accountability structure currently in place relating to the governance, finances and management of Portland District Health.
Victorian Taskforce established for National Disability Insurance Scheme - Saturday 26 February 2011 - Premier Ted Baillieu today announced that the Coalition Government has established a new expert Taskforce to advise the Government on the establishment of a new National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) to provide lifetime support for people with a disability. The Baillieu Government is committed to a new approach to disability funding, such as an NDIS, which would introduce a no-fault universal safety net – similar to those operated by the Transport Accident Commission and WorkSafe – for people with permanent or severe disabilities.
Mental health review board appointments - Friday 25 February 2011 - The Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge today announced the appointment of 43 members to the Mental Health Review Board. Ms Wooldridge said the 12 new members and 31 reappointed members will join 55 other current members in ensuring that the rights of people with a mental illness are met.
Publication Number 06 / 2011 - 1 February 2011 - Date issued: 1 March 2010 - Subject: Highly Specialised Drugs Program
Publication Number 05 / 2011 - 1 March 2011 - Date issued: 1 March 2010 - Subject: Designated Officers of Hospitals
Publication Number 04 / 2011 - 28 February 2011 - Date issued: 1 February 2010 - Subject: Price Decreases - Highly Specialised Drugs Program
Publication Number 03 / 2011 - 28 February 2011 - Date issued: 27 January 2010 - Subject: Highly Specialised Drugs Program
Victorians' desire to cut junk food and boost fresh food - 25 February 2011 - Victorians want their fresh produce green, cheap and local according new VicHealth research.
RCH staff exclusive first look - 25 February 2011 - With only nine months until the opening of the new Royal Children's Hospital, almost 1000 staff set foot inside the world-class facilities for the first time.
Western Australia. Department of Health
2 March 2011 - New system to monitor vaccine safety
03 March 2011 Barnett, Hames Premier opens new ED and 55 new beds at Joondalup Health Campus
28 February 2011 Barnett, Hames New funding for more surgery at Peel Health Campus
New Zealand. Ministry of Health
2 March 2011: Tatau Kura Tangata: Health of Older Māori Chart Book 2011 - This statistical report presents a snapshot of the health of Māori aged 50 years and over in New Zealand.
United Kingdom. Department of Health
United States of America. Centres for Disease Control
Opioid Pain Killers Linked to Increased Risk of Some Birth Defects - Babies born to women who take opioid pain killers such as codeine, oxycodone or hydrocodone just before or in early pregnancy are at increased but modest risk of birth defects, according to a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Published: 3/2/2011)
Infections in ICUs Plummeting, Too Many Remain in Hospitals and Dialysis Clinics - The number of bloodstream infections in intensive care unit patients with central lines decreased by 58 percent in 2009 compared to 2001, according to a new CDC Vital Signs report. During these nine years, the decrease represented up to 27,000 lives saved and $1.8 billion in excess health care costs. (Published: 3/1/2011)
Smoking Early in Pregnancy Raises Risk of Heart Defects in Infants - Maternal cigarette smoking in the first trimester was associated with a 20 to 70 percent greater likelihood that a baby would be born with certain types of congenital heart defects, according to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (Published: 2/28/2011)
Australian Medical Association
AMA supports ban on junk food advertising 3 March 2011 - 5:00pm - AMA Vice President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said today that the AMA strongly supports a ban on the broadcast advertising of junk food to children, particularly during children's television times. Read more
GP groups united on primary care reform 3 March 2011 - 12:42pm - United General Practice Australia (UGPA) – comprising the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, the Australian Medical Association, the Australian General Practice Network, General Practice Registrars Australia, the Australian College of Rural and Remote Medicine, and the Rural Doctors Association of Australia – met in Canberra today. UGPA reached agreement on key areas of primary care reform and will urge the Government to consult closely with the medical profession as it progresses with the establishment of Medicare Locals and introduces changes to GP after-hours care and collaborative care arrangements. Read more
Productivity Commission signals support on the way for people with disabilities and their carers 28 February 2011 - 4:44pm - AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today that the Productivity Commission's Disability Care and Support draft report provides the Government with the opportunity to move ahead with much-needed reform of Australia's disability support system. Dr Pesce said that the AMA supports the draft report's overall objective to provide people with a disability with consistent access to essential care and support based on their level of need. "The draft report outlines a thoughtful response to the problems of unmet need that are experienced by Australians living with disabilities," Dr Pesce said. Read more
American Medical Association
AMA Urges Greater Flexibility in Meeting EHR Meaningful Use Requirements - AMA Press Release, March 1, 2011 - The AMA and 37 medical societies sent a letter to the Office of the National Coordinator in response to the Health IT Policy Committee's request for comments on the proposed next stage of meaningful use criteria. Read the AMA Press Release
Palliative Care Australia
Improvement of palliative care skills across health workforce key to new strategy - Palliative Care Australia has welcomed the Government's ongoing commitment to improving both access to, and the quality of, palliative care across the country with the release of the National Palliative Care Strategy 2010, Supporting Australians to Live Well at the End of Life. Read the PCA media release
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