Australia: Health Alert - 3 OCTOBER 2011

Case notes on medical tribunal cases
Last Updated: 8 October 2011
Article by Andrew Forbes


New South Wales. Medical Tribunal

Health Care Complaints Commission v Dr John Edwards [2011] NSWMT 10 (14 September 2011)

This New South Wales Medical Tribunal decision concerned complaint proceedings that were initiated by the Health Care Complaints Commission against the respondent medical practitioner for alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct and/or professional misconduct within the meaning of sections 36 and 37 of the Medical Practice Act 1992 (the Act).

The respondent admitted to the particulars relied upon, which included prescribing drugs of addiction and prescribed restricted substances to drug dependent patients, over prescribing narcotics and other drugs to patients, and failing to keep proper medical records.

The tribunal found that the respondent was guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct by reason that he had demonstrated that his knowledge, skill, judgement and care in the practice of medicine were significantly below the standard expected of a practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience. Further, the Tribunal found that the respondent had breached the 2003 and 2008 Medical Practice Regulations and had engaged in improper conduct relating to the practice of medicine.

The Tribunal reprimanded the respondent pursuant to section 61 of the Act. The Tribunal ordered that a number of conditions be placed on the respondent's registration including that he not be permitted to prescribe, possess, supply, administer, handle or dispense any drugs of addiction or to prescribe restricted substances.

Health Care Complaints Commission v Dr Mazzaferro [2011] NSWMT 9 (31 August 2011)

Health Care Complaints Commission v Halder [2011] NSWMT 8 (26 August 2011)

This New South Wales Medical Tribunal decision concerned complaint proceedings that were initiated by the Health Care Complaints Commission against the respondent obstetrician and gynaecologist for alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct within the meaning of section 36 of the Medical Practice Act 1992 (the Act).

The respondent admitted the conduct contained within the complaint, which included breaching an undertaking given to the Director of Medical Services, failing to fully inform a patient of the extent of the pain she would potentially suffer after an operation and six instances of failing to keep proper records.

The tribunal found that the judgment of the respondent in the practice of medicine was significantly below the standard reasonably expected of a practitioner of an equivalent level of training or experience. In addition, the tribunal concluded that the failure of the respondent to keep proper records was a breach of Regulation 5 of the Medical Practice Regulations 2003, constituting unsatisfactory professional conduct pursuant to section 36(1)(b) of the Act.

The Tribunal commented that the respondent's misconduct should be seen in the light of the serious deficiencies of both of the hospitals hat which he worked, which included insufficient orientation, understaffing and limited resources. According to the tribunal, these constituted mitigating factors that should be taken into account when assessing the nature and extent of any penalty against the respondent. The Tribunal determined that in this case the appropriate penalty was the issue of a caution to the respondent, pursuant to section 61(1)(a) of the Act.

Health Care Complaints Commission v Gorman [2011] NSWMT 7 (17 August 2011)



National Health Act (Pharmaceutical Benefits - Early Supply) Amendment October 2011 - specification under subsection 84AAA(2) (No. PB 73 of 2011)

National Health Act 1953 - Amendment determination under paragraph 98C(1)(b) - conditions (No. PB 68 of 2011)

National Health (Listing of Pharmaceutical Benefits) Amendment Instrument 2011 (No. 10) (No. PB 67 of 2011)

National Health (Listed drugs on F1 or F2) Amendment Determination 2011 (No. 10) (No. PB 71 of 2011)

National Health Act (Pharmaceutical Benefits - Early Supply) Amendment October 2011 - specification under subsection 84AAA(2) (No. PB 73 of 2011)


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

  • 30 September 2011- A Conversation on Ageing with Key Multicultural and Ethnic Groups -Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler and Parliamentary Secretary for Immigration and Multicultural Affairs, Kate Lundy have met with key multicultural community organisations in Melbourne as part of a national conversation on healthy and positive ageing.
  • 30 September 2011- Child Health Experts to Develop New Healthy Kids Check-Leading Australian child health experts will help develop a new Healthy Kids Check for three-year-olds.
  • 30 September 2011- Important New Medicines Listed on the PBS-More than 160,000 Australians per year will benefit from the Australian Government's decision to provide subsidised access to 48 medicines, including treatments for serious heart conditions including heart failure in infants and children, rare but serious infections like tuberculosis, and cancer.
  • 30 September 2011- Release of draft eHealth Legislation-Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon released the draft eHealth records legislation for public consultation.
  • 30 September 2011- School Workshops Encourage Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Kids to Work in Health-Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander secondary students are being encouraged to consider pursuing a career in health, as part of the Australian Government's Attracting More People to Work in Indigenous Health campaign. 20 workshops are being conducted in schools and careers exhibitions across Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia.
  • 29 September 2011- National Lead Clinicians Group Established-Minister for Health and Ageing, Nicola Roxon has announced the chair and members of the National Lead Clinicians Group.
  • 28 September 2011- Makeover for Food Nutrition Calculator-A new version of a popular Nutrition Panel Calculator, used by industry to provide important nutrition information on food labels, has been launched.
  • 27 September 2011- More Tasmanians Talking about Organ and Tissue Donation-Tasmanian families were today thanked by the Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King for their increased family discussion and knowledge of each others' organ and tissue donation wishes.
  • 27 September 2011- Pharmacy location rule changes to improve access to medicines-The rules governing the location of pharmacies in Australia will be fairer and more transparent following changes that come into force from 18 October 2011.
  • 26 September 2011- A Bright Future for Australian Health and Medical Research-2011 Australian of the Year Simon McKeon will chair an independent review of health and medical research in Australia and recommend a ten-year strategic health and medical research plan for the nation.
  • 23 September 2011- Organ Donation Reform on Track for Continued Growth-The Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing, Catherine King has released a mid point implementation review of Australia's efforts to increase organ and tissue donation rates and agreed in principle to the opportunities for further improvements identified in the report.
  • 22 September 2011- $5 Million for Culturally Appropriate Aged Care-The continuation of the Partners in Culturally Appropriate Care (PICAC) program will equip aged care services to deliver culturally appropriate aged care to people from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.
  • 22 September 2011- Gavin Larkin-Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Minister for Mental Health and Ageing, Mark Butler paid tribute to the founder of R U OK? Day, Gavin Larkin who passed away on Wednesday 21 September.

Private Health Insurance Circulars

Protecting Residents' Savings – arrangements for accommodation bonds-From 1 October 2011, there are clearer and stronger arrangements to protect residents' savings held in the form of accommodation bonds (bonds). The arrangements clarify the intended purpose for bonds as a source of capital for investment in aged care infrastructure. They also improve governance arrangements for bonds and provide greater transparency and accountability for bonds. - 30 September 2011

Health and Medical Research Strategic Review

28 September 2011 - Accommodation Bond Refund Interest Rates

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare

The health of Australia's prisoners 2010 28 Sept 2011

The use of health services among Australians with disability (30 Sep 2011)

Measuring alcohol risk in the 2010 National Drug Strategy Household Survey: implementation of the 2009 Alcohol Guidelines (29 Sep 2011)

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Performance Framework 2010: detailed analyses (27 Sep 2011)

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

Research Tracker - 23 September 2011 edition

NHMRC Health Tracker - September 2011 edition

Australia. Private Health Insurance Administrative Council

11/15 - 30 September 2011 Circular 11/15 - PHIAC Returns to be Password Protected

Australia. Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme

Changes to PBS listing deadlines - 30 September 2011 - As previously advised, the January 2012 Schedule of Pharmaceutical Benefits will remain current until 29 February 2012. To assist the pharmaceutical industry, the data cut-off date to meet the requirements of a 1 January 2012 listing on the PBS has been extended from 15 October to 28 October 2011. This extension is to provide industry with an opportunity to seek a January listing for items that were proposed for a February 2012 listing. Revised listing dates are available here

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

30 September 2011 - Adverse drug reactions: Australian statistics on medicines - The Office of Product Review of the Therapeutic Goods Administration prepared a report for incorporation into the Department of Health and Ageing publication Australian Statistics on Medicines

29 September 2011 - Stryker EIUS unicompartmental knee prosthesis - The TGA has become aware that the EIUS unicompartmental knee prosthesis supplied by Stryker Australia has a higher than expected revision rate (rate of revision surgery)

28 September 2011 - Benzylpenicillin (BENPEN) shortage - The Therapeutic Goods Administration has recently been advised by CSL Limited of a shortage of stock of the product BENPEN benzylpenicillin

28 September 2011 - Consultations on adoption of European Union guidelines in Australia - Added 15 guidelines proposed for adoption and 1 guideline proposed for non-adoption

28 September 2011 - Documents released under Section 11C of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 - Added FOI 254-1011 documents

28 September 2011 - Reasons for scheduling delegates' final decisions, September 2011 - Reasons for decisions by the Delegate of the Secretary to the Department of Health and Ageing for amendments to the Poisons Standard

28 September 2011 - Public submissions on scheduling matters referred to ACCS#2 and ACMS#3 (June 2011) - Further submissions on scheduling matters referred to ACCS#2 and ACMS#3 (June 2011)

28 September 2011 - Scheduling news - Updates and news about scheduling medicines and poisons

27 September 2011 - Australian Public Assessment Reports for prescription medicines (AusPARs) - Added Tadalafil, Apixaban & Groups A, C, Y and W-135 Meningococcal Polysaccharide Diphtheria Toxoid Conjugate Vaccine

26 September 2011 - Correction of media reports relating to the use of Nembutal - Contrary to media reports today, the TGA has not approved the use of Nembutal by Dr Nitschke

26 September 2011 - Advisory Committee on Non-prescription Medicines (ACNM) - Added 2012 meeting dates

23 September 2011 - Reforms to the medical devices regulatory framework: Proposals - As a result of the Health Technology Assessment review and consultation process, the TGA has refined and modified its recommended reform proposals

Australian National Council on Drugs

Drug and Alcohol Media Briefing - September 2011

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

Annual Report 2010-2011 - 30.9.11

New South Wales. Department of Health

Media releases

Policy directive

  • Public Interest Disclosures-PD2011_061-30/09/2011

Northern Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

The provisions of Schedule 8 of the Health Practitioners Act and the functions of the Pharmacy Premises Committee are currently under review.

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases

Live Well with Asthma DVD and Control Pack now available

Live Well with Asthma DVD and Control Pack now available BreastScreen Queensland relocates city service to David Jones Rose Clinic QueensPlaza Brisbane

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media releases

The Department of Health and Human Services has released the September edition of Your Health and Human Services Progress Chart

Victoria. Department of Health

Media releases

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Australian Medial Association

Draft rulings to impact on GST status of some medical services - Thursday 29 September 2011 - The Australian Taxation Office (ATO) recently released draft addenda to GST Rulings 2006-9 and 2006-10 for comment. These draft addenda will affect the GST status of some medical services and the AMA is seeking legislative changes to ensure that medical practitioners do not face additional compliance costs.

Submission: Proposed Registration Standard – Granting registration as a medical practitioner on completion of intern training - Thursday 29 September 2011 - The AMA has made a submission to the Medical Board of Australia on its Proposed Registration Standard – Granting registration as a medical practitioner on completion of intern training. The board's proposed standard includes the option for health services to provide interns with exposure to emergency medicine (EM) in a general practice context. Of utmost concern to the AMA is the absence of clear criteria about what would constitute appropriate exposure to EM under this type of arrangement. As a result, the AMA has offered to be part of the team that will prepare guidelines to better define the board's requirements. In the mean time, the AMA maintains that all interns should have access to a term in an emergency department.

AMA calls for moratorium on cuts to GP mental health services - Thursday 29 September 2011 - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton has today written to Health Minister, Nicola Roxon calling for a moratorium on the Government's budget cuts to GP mental health services under the Better Access program, which are due to commence from 1 November. The AMA has been actively campaigning against the cuts since budget night in May and has gained the support of GPs, mental health experts and the families of people with mental illness. Dr Hambleton said that the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee – which received more than 1000 submissions – is currently looking into the Government's handling of mental health services and is not due to report until 20 October.

GP Network News, Issue 11, Number 38 - 30 September 2011

AMA information kit for patients about the effect of cuts to rebates for GP mental health services - Wednesday 28 September 2011 The Government is cutting Medicare rebates for GP mental health services under the Better Access Program by up to 49%. This may mean increased out-of-pocket expenses for patients who access these services. This kit has been prepared to support GPs in advising their patients why they may now face a gap for these services because of the Government's cuts.

Alcohol tax reform is a major public health and social policy issue - Tuesday 27 September 2011 - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton today questioned why the Government was reluctant to approach alcohol taxation reform and why it had excluded alcohol tax from next month's Tax Forum. 'The Government has a strong record in public health with tobacco plain packaging and the alcopops tax, and it should be building on this momentum,' Dr Hambleton said. 'The evidence for the need for alcohol tax reform is considerable and beyond challenge.'

Canadian Medical Association

09/29/2011 - MDs warn of complacency as wait-time problems linger

09/27/2011 - Proportion of Canadians who smoke lowest ever recorded

09/23/2011 - Physicians have duty to advocate for patients: CMPA

09/20/2011 - How many MDs are there, and what do they do?

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