Australia: Health Alert - 11 April 2011

Last Updated: 11 April 2011
Article by Kerry Hogan-Ross

11 April 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.

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 us.

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The DLA Phillips Fox Health Team


South Australia. Coroner

Inquest into the death of Maureen WATKINS

This coronial investigation concerned the death of a 56 year old patient who had been detained at hospital under the Mental Health Act 1993 (SA) (the Act).  An inquest was mandatory because the patient was detained at the time of her death.

The patient suffered from bipolar affective disorder and had ceased taking her medication. After a long period of being bed-ridden, the patient had experienced a seizure before being admitted to the hospital, where she experienced another seizure. She was involuntarily detained after experiencing confusion, delirium and hallucinations.

The coroner found that the cause of death was pulmonary thromboembolism due to deep vein thrombosis (DVT) likely caused by the patient's immobility, whether whilst bed-ridden at home, or during her time at the hospital.  An intern had suspected the existence of a pulmonary embolism within hours of the patient's death, but it was not diagnosed. 

The coroner recommended, among other things, that clinical areas review local practices to ensure that abnormal results such as arterial blood gas examinations are treated as such until proven otherwise, that medical patients with neuropsychotic or delirium states be stratified, and that high risk patients be considered for high dependency management by more experienced staff.


Northern Territory



Dental Hospital Land Bill 2011

Liquor Control Reform Amendment Bill 2011


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

  • 07 April 2011- World's Toughest Anti-Smoking Laws Released -The world's toughest laws on tobacco promotion moved a step closer with the release on 7 April of the Australian Government's proposed design and legislation for plain packaging.
  • 06 April 2011- Closing the Gap in Queensland's Gulf and Torres Strait-The Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon, has announced the Australian Government will provide $150,000 to fund a strategic position for an Indigenous Health Council in the Gulf region of Queensland.
  • 06 April 2011- Hold the Salt: Simmer Sauces and Processed Meats-The sodium content of many simmer sauces and the sodium and saturated fat content of many processed meats will be reduced under a voluntary agreement with leading food manufacturers and retailers.
  • 06 April 2011- Indigenous Families in Mt Isa Get Better Access to Health Services-Indigenous babies in Mount Isa will have a better chance of being born healthy and staying healthy following the announcement of more than $420,000 to develop culturally appropriate pre-pregnancy care and early childhood development services.
  • 06 April 2011- TGA Transparency Review Extended at Request of Review Panel-At the request of the chair of the Therapeutical Goods Administration (TGA) Transparency Review panel, Professor Dennis Pearce, the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King, has extended the panel's reporting date to 30 June 2011.
  • 05 April 2011- Easier Access to Navigate Aged Care System-From 1 July 2011, older Australians and their carers will find it easier to access and navigate the aged care system with the introduction of a single phone number to access and navigate the system as the first step in the phased implementation of the one-stop shop measure.
  • 04 April 2011- Mental Health Umbrella Project Launch-A community arts project has seen local artist Sandy Elverd work with volunteers from St Bede's Anglican Parish to help disadvantaged people and those living with mental illness stay engaged with the Port Adelaide community.
  • 02 April 2011- Additional Indigenous Remote Service Delivery Traineeships-Valuable training in business and management is again being offered to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the Australian Government continues its commitment to improving employment opportunities for Indigenous communities and better delivery of aged and primary healthcare services in remote and rural Australia.
  • 01 April 2011- Flexible Care Package Implementation Begins Today-Minister for Mental Health and Ageing Mark Butler has announced that implementation has begun on the Government's Flexible Care Packages for people with severe mental illnesses.
  • 01 April 2011- Women, Health and Ageing – New Results from Longitudinal Study on Women in their 80s -The latest major report from the ongoing Australian Longitudinal Study on Women's Health has been released.

Private Health Insurance Circulars

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

Taking action towards combating antibiotic resistance in Australia

Antimicrobial Stewardship in Australian Hospitals 2011

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency

AHPRA Delivers Student Register - 05 April 2011 

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

NHMRC Indigenous Scientific Forum communiqué 5 April 2011 - The importance of Indigenous health research and building the current and future workforce were reinforced at the NHMRC Indigenous Scientific Forum, held from 24-25 February, in Canberra. Further information

Australia. Private Health Insurance Administration Council

11/07 06 April 2011 Amendment to Private Health Insurance (Risk Equalisation Administration) Rules 2007 CURRENT EDITION 11/07

11/06 01 April 2011 Capital Adequacy Standard – Market Yield Rate March 2011 CURRENT EDITION 11/06

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines (updated)  *Aripiprazole *Asenapine

Advance notice – TGA website changes (new)

Media release: TGA Transparency Review extended at request of Review Panel
The Hon Catherine King MP, Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing
6 April 2011

TGA Transparency Review Panel: Meeting reports and submissions (added Meeting 3: 23 March 2011)

Important information - Changes to annual charges and LVT 2011-12 (new)

Medicines Safety Update Volume 2, Number 2, April 2011 (new)

Australian Public Assessment Report (AusPAR) for prescription medicines (updated)  *Pandemic influenza vaccine

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

ACT Primary Health Care Strategy Consultation Draft - ACT Health is developing a new ACT Primary Health Care Strategy which will build on the work of the ACT Primary Health Care Strategy 2006-2009 and set the strategic direction for primary health care into the future. The new ACT Primary Health Care Strategy aims to be a visionary document that reflects the thinking of the ACT community in relation to their needs and priorities for primary health care.

Hepatitis E Health Alert (6 April 2011) - ACT Health has issued a public health alert today because a food handler has been diagnosed with Hepatitis E.

Health Status of Young People 2011 (1 April 2011) - This publication provides an overview of the health and wellbeing of young people aged 12 to 25 years in the ACT.

Elective Surgery Access Policy 2011  - The Elective Surgery Access Policy 2011 has been developed to promote clinically appropriate, consistent and equitable management of elective patients and waiting lists in public hospitals in the ACT. Hospitals must actively manage in compliance with the policy.

New South Wales. Department of Health

Media releases

Role Delineation Levels of Emergency Medicine in NSW Public Hospitals

Northern Territory. Department of Health & Families

Media releases

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases

South Australia. Department of Health

Media release

  • Gynaecology services guaranteed at the RAH - old and new - Wednesday, 06 April 2011 - Health Minister John Hill has condemned Liberal scare-mongering over gynaecology services at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Read more...

Falls and Fall Injury Prevention and Management Policy Directive (PDF 142KB) - SA Health recognises that systematic and proactive risk identification and management is required in order to reduce risk of falling and sustaining harm from falls for consumers in the health service environment. The policy outlines responsibility for falls prevention systems.

Directive - SA First Stage Labour and Birth in Water Policy

Directive - Healthy Food Choices Staff Visitors Mar 2011

South Australia. Health & Community Services Complaints Commissioner

Progress with the new law - complaints involving registered health professionals and student health professionals April 2011- On 1 July 2010 the law about HCSCC consultation with health professional registration boards changed, except for occupational therapists. New arrangements for consultation and referral of a complaint about an individual registered health professional, or a student undertaking studies to become a registered health professional, have been developed. HCSCC and a new organisation, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA), on behalf of the 10 new national health professional registration boards, are responsible for the new arrangements.  Reports about how HCSCC and AHPRA in South Australia have dealt with complaints about nationally registered health professionals during the first six months under the new arrangements are available by using the links below.  HCSCC – AHPRA SA Report 1 Oct – 31 Dec 2010 PDF RTF HCSCC – AHPRA SA Report 1 Jul – 30 Sep 2010  PDF  RTF

An HCSCC Information Sheet Unregistered practitioners - what to expect and what to do if you have concerns about an unregistered practitioner aims to help people know what to expect if they choose an unregistered practitioner. It also provides information to help people make a complaint if they are not satisfied with the service provided by an unregistered practitioner. - Unregistered practitioners information sheet – August 2010

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media releases

Victoria. Department of Health

Media releases

World-first Arthritis Map helps Victorians - 1 April 2011 - Arthritis Victoria has launched their new Arthritis Map – a practical and interactive online tool for people with arthritis and other musculoskeletal conditions.

New legislation tackles alcohol-related harm - 1 April 2011 - New legislation has been introduced into Parliament banning adults from supplying alcohol to a minor in a private home unless parental consent is given.

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Healthview Autumn 2011 (PDF 1.59MB)

United Kingdom. Department of Health

Customer insight work on maternity and early years

Manual for Cancer Services: acute oncology - including metastatic spinal cord compression measures

Manual for Cancer Services: Network Service User Partnership Group Measures

Acute oncology: including metastatic spinal cord compression measures for the Manual for Cancer Services, letter from Stephen Parsons, Director National Cancer Action Team

Network Service User Partnership Group measures, letter from Stephen Parsons, Director, National Cancer Action Team

Developing relativities, costs and prices for the Maternity PbR Pathway Project

Working together for a stronger NHS

The public health national support teams 2006-11

Dear colleague letter: Funding for 2011/12 substance misuse services in prisons

Dear colleague letter: Funding for 2011 2012 substance misuse specialist interventions and treatment

National Allied Health Professional Leadership Challenge Toolkit

Introducing Solid Foods: Giving your baby a better start in life

Off to the best start - Important information about feeding your baby

NHS emergency planning guidance: planning for the management of burn-injured patients in the event of a major incident: interim strategic national guidance

Cost-effective prescribing: Better Care Better Value (BCBV) Indicator on statins

Cancer Screening Advisory Committees

Good practice procedure guide: The transfer and remission of adult prisoners under s47 and s48 of the Mental Health Act

Response to sexual violence needs assessments (RSVNA) toolkit: informing the commissioning and development of co-ordinated specialist services for victims of sexual violence

The Cancer Drugs Fund: Government response to consultation

United States of America. Centres for Disease Control

U.S. Teen Birth Rate Fell to Record Low in 2009 - Teen birth rates have decreased by 37 percent in the last two decades, though U.S. rates are up to nine times higher than in other developed countries, according to the latest CDC Vital Signs report.  (Published: 4/5/2011)

CDC Press Briefing on Vital Signs Report: Teen Pregnancy — United States, 1991–2009 - CDC will host a telephone-only media briefing to discuss the new Vital Signs reports on teen pregnancy.  (Published: 4/5/2011)

CDC and NIH Update Guidelines to Protect Patients from Bloodstream Infections - New guidelines outline steps to eliminate catheter-related bloodstream infections (CRBSI), one of the most deadly and costly threats to patient safety. Released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Healthcare Infection Control Practices Advisory Committee (HICPAC), the guidelines were developed by a working group led by clinical scientists from the National Institutes of Health Clinical Center Critical Care Medicine Department (CCMD) along with 14 other professional organizations.  (Published: 4/4/2011)

Australian Medical Association

Plain packs send plain message - stop smoking 7 April 2011 - 12:00pm - The AMA welcomes the draft Bill for the plain packaging of tobacco products and the proposed design of the new packs, both of which were released today by the Government. AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said the plain packaging laws would put Australia ahead of the world in anti-smoking measures.

Former AMA President elected chair of World Medical Association 7 April 2011 - 9:30am - The AMA today congratulated its former President, Dr Mukesh Haikerwal (AO), who was elected Chair of the World Medical Association (WMA) Council at the 188th WMA Council Session in Sydney today. AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said that Dr Haikerwal's appointment reflects the respect and high regard in which he is held by his medical colleagues around the world.

Dr Pesce, speech to WMA symposium at the medical leadership: the view from down under 5 April 2011 - 4:00pm - style="TEXT-DECORATION: underline">Engagement and Leadership in Medicine - It is a great honour for Australia to host the World Medical Association and a wonderful opportunity for the AMA to co-host this Symposium on Medical Leadership. Just as the WMA is a world leader in health policy and debate, the AMA and the NZMA play similar leadership roles on the domestic front.

Doctors urged to tackle 'causes of causes' of ill health 5 April 2011 - 10:20am - Doctors have a role in addressing the 'causes of the causes' of illnesses that lead to social inequalities in health, medical leaders from Australia and overseas will hear at a special Symposium in Sydney today. Professor Sir Michael Marmot, President of the British Medical Association and an internationally acclaimed researcher into the social determinants of health, will give a presentation at the Medical Leadership: The View from Down Under Symposium on the 'Medical Profession and Health Inequalities'.

Medical research funding must be boosted 4 April 2011 - 2:45pm - The AMA today joined leading science, medical and research groups in calling on the Government to increase or at least maintain current levels of health and medical research funding. AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said that there have been reports and rumours of proposed cuts to funding for the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) and other medical research programs in the May Budget.

Alternative medicine: regulatory review needed 3 April 2011 - 12:00pm - MJA media release: Alternative therapies including Chinese herbal products need more stringent regulation, according to an article in the Medical Journal of Australia. Ms Winnie Chau from the Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, said that online shopping has made herbal medicines more available, and regulation more difficult.

New superbug detected in Australia 3 April 2011 - 12:00pm - MJA release: Australia is in the grip of a new superbug that can cause potentially fatal colon infections, an editorial in the latest Medical Journal of Australia says. The first case of an epidemic strain of Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) thought to have been acquired in Australia has been identified at a hospital in Melbourne, and further clusters have been reported in residential aged care facilities, Dr Rhonda Stuart of the Monash Medical Centre's Department of Infectious Diseases said.

Medical admission test is not a valid predictor of academic performance 3 April 2011 - 12:00pm - MJA media release: The Undergraduate Medicine and Health Sciences Admission Test (UMAT) does not reliably predict academic performance at university, according to a study published in the Medical Journal of Australia. In 2009, 14 universities in Australia and New Zealand used the UMAT as part of their selection processes for accepting students into medical degree programs.

Vitamin D deficiency linked to diabetes in pregnancy 3 April 2011 - 12:00pm - MJA media release: All pregnant women should be tested for vitamin D deficiency and those found to be deficient should be treated, say experts. Pregnant women with gestational diabetes are likely to have low levels of vitamin D, potentially leading to bone weakness in their babies, according to research in the latest issue of the Medical Journal of Australia.

AMA encourages community to 'own' the health of young Australians in National Youth Week 1 April 2011 - 11:50am - The AMA is encouraging the broader community to take ownership of the health of young Australians during National Youth Week, which commences today with the theme 'Own It'. AMA Vice President, Dr Steve Hambleton, said that it is important for the community to support and advise young people about the importance of staying healthy and avoiding unhealthy practices and substances. "There are many health risks confronting young people today but one of the most dangerous – and one where the community as a whole can help – is alcohol abuse," Dr Hambleton said.

AMA hosts global medical leaders in Sydney 1 April 2011 - 11:24am - Some of the world's most respected medical leaders and authorities will meet in Sydney next week for the 188th World Medical Association (WMA) Council Session, hosted by the AMA. The Session will include more than 150 delegates representing 95 National Medical Associations (NMAs) from around the world – the largest gathering of NMAs outside Europe. AMA President, Dr Andrew Pesce, said today it was an honour for the AMA to be hosting the WMA Council Session for the first time in Australia since 1994.

British Medical Association

Commitment to listen welcome, but BMA says real change needed on NHS reforms - Commenting on the launch of a listening exercise and the creation of a 'Future Forum' to advise the government on changes to its reforms of the NHS in England, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: "We see it as positive that the government is committed to listening. How serious it is about making real changes remains to be seen, but we welcome the acknowledgement that NHS staff and many others in the healthcare world have genuine concerns. The BMA will co-operate to get across the views of doctors, and to work to ensure we get the best outcome for patients." (Wednesday 6 April 2011)

Government proposals for public health and workforce planning deliver double-blow to NHS - Proposals to radically restructure medical education and training, and public health services in England are flawed and could damage the NHS beyond repair, says the BMA today (Friday 1 April 2011).

American Medical Association

AMA: Human Genes Should Not Be Considered Property - AMA Statement, March 4, 2011
The AMA believes that overly broad gene patents must be reined in to preserve scientific discovery. Read the AMA Statement

Canadian Medical Association

04/07/2011 - "No action today, no cure tomorrow," WHO warns

04/06/2011 - Walnuts bring E. coli warning

04/04/2011 - CMA's election priority: What is the federal plan for the future of health care?

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