Australia: Health Alert : 23 January 2012

Last Updated: 28 February 2012
Article by Anthony Willis


Victoria. Coroners Court


A coronial inquest into the death of Mark Connolly found he died from head injuries sustained as a pedestrian in a motor vehicle collision after absconding from the Sunshine Adult Acute Psychiatric Unit (SAAPU). Mr Connolly had paranoid schizophrenia and was taken to the Sunshine Hospital Emergency Department in a highly agitated state. Mr Connolly made no attempt to escape and did not appear to be agitated, but he reported hearing voices telling him to remove his clothes and do self harm.

He was transferred to the Low Dependency Unit of the SAAPU, where he exhibited elevated levels of anxiety, reported hearing the voices again and requested to be moved to the High Dependency Unit. Mr Connolly was observed at 15-minute intervals while arrangements were made to transfer him to the High Dependency Unit. Once the arrangements had been made, Mr Connolly could not be found as he had exited the premises by moving a chair to the two-metre-high courtyard fence and using it to enable him to go over the fence. After absconding, Mr Connolly ran onto the Western Ring Road and into the path of an oncoming truck.

The Coroner highlighted that there should have been constant observations and communication regarding the nature of the risk for which observations were required. He found that the care fell outside the parameters of reasonable health care management and recommended the courtyard wall be modified to prevent climbing and/or any courtyard furniture to be secured to the ground.


A coronial inquest into the death of Poppy Habgood found she died from perinatal asphyxia shortly after being born by emergency caesarean section. Poppy's mother, Ms Barton, underwent continuous cardiotocograph (CTG) monitoring after an incident of foetal bradycardia was identified. The CTG became increasingly abnormal and a Foetal Scalp Lactate test (FSL) was performed in accordance with the Clinical Practice Guidelines (CPG). It was particularly busy in the labour ward so there was a delay in the FSL, but it was eventually performed and revealed a low lactate. The CPG did not state how to respond to an unusually low FSL, so the test was interpreted as normal and no immediate action was taken. After the CTG showed a period of prolonged and rapid deceleration, Ms Barton was transferred to the operating theatre for caesarean. At no time was the consultant obstetrician contacted.

Expert evidence suggested that an urgent caesarean should have been performed instead of the FSL. The Coroner found that the full clinical picture was not taken into account and earlier intervention could have prevented the death. The Coroner made a number of recommendations, including (among others) amending the CPG to include a directive to notify the obstetric consultant if a CTG is abnormal, notifying the obstetric consultant if FLS is being considered, keeping birthing suite patients informed of the full clinical picture and their birthing options and making CTG training mandatory for clinicians on the birthing suite.


339704 BENITA JUDD (PDF 485KB)

New South Wales


Torts - wrongful imprisonment - detention of person with disabilities in residential centre - whether imprisonment - absence of formal consent by Public Guardian - whether Public Guardian acquiesced in detention - justification for detention - availability of aggravated or exemplary damages - principles.


Civil liability - whether a doctor conducting a post mortem is protected from liability under the Coroners Act. Statutory interpretation- Anti-Discrimination Act ss 4 and 49B - whether "person" includes a "deceased person". Statutory interpretation - Anti-Discrimination Act s 4 - whether "associate" includes a past associate of the aggrieved person - wording of definition is unambiguous - "associate" only include those who are presently associates. Statutory interpretation - Anti-Discrimination Act ss 4, 49M - whether "service" includes the performance of a post mortem - whether a particular matter is a "service" is a question of fact.

New South Wales. Pharmacy Tribunal

HCCC v LAU [2011] NSWPHT 2 (15 December 2011

Pharmacist - unsatisfactory professional conduct - professional misconduct - not suitable person to hold registration as pharmacist - impairment - failure to comply with statutory requirements concerning restricted substances; unlawful diversion of anabolic/androgenic steroids for purpose of illegal supply; creation of false prescriptions; providing knowingly false and misleading information; fraudulent alteration of document; misappropriation and unlawful self-administration of restricted substances.

Queensland. Civil and Administrative Tribunal

KHAN V MEDICAL BOARD OF AUSTRALIA [2011] QCAT 639 (9 December 2011

Procedure – occupational regulation – medical – registration – review of board decision – where applicant is an overseas trained doctor – where applicant formerly held limited registration in an area of need – where board refused to renew the applicant's registration as medical practitioner – where the applicant seeks to review that decision – where tribunal formerly granted stay of board's decision – where applicant repeatedly failed to pass clinical examination though demonstrated improvement – where applicant never subject to disciplinary investigation or complaint – where board argues tribunal can not renew registration – whether tribunal can renew applicant's limited registration – whether applicant's limited registration should be renewed.


Health practitioner – pharmacist – where convicted of indictable offences – where stole a large sum of money. Health practitioner – disciplinary proceedings – purpose – where criminal conviction only related to a small amount of money – whether the criminal penalty warrants further punishment by disciplinary sanction – purpose of sanction. Health practitioner – disciplinary proceedings – procedure – where parties jointly proposed sanction after compulsory conference – where Tribunal not satisfied proposed sanction warranted – where tribunal imposed a shorter period of suspension.


Occupational regulation – disciplinary – nurse – where nurse attended elderly patient with dementia – where patient believed himself threatened – where nurse responded physically – where elderly patient sustained serious injury – where altercation could have been avoided had nurse approached patient differently – where incident occurred years before disciplinary proceedings – where nurse not subject to any other disciplinary proceedings since – whether nurse demonstrated sufficient insight into deficit in own practice – whether nurse at risk of like response in future.

OWENS V MEDICAL BOARD OF AUSTRALIA [2011] QCAT 628 (5 December 2011)

Health practitioner– medical practitioner – review of conditions – where practitioner applied to remove all conditions imposed in earlier proceedings –where board argued some should remain – whether practitioner still vulnerable to potential abuse of alcohol – whether conditions necessary to address potential risk.


Procedure – occupational regulation – medical – registration – review of board decision – costs – where applicant applied to review Board decision regarding registration – where applicant successfully demonstrated eligibility for registration by obtaining fellowship with the Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP) – where applicant withdrew application – where board applied for costs – whether costs should be allowed.


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

Private health insurance circulars

23 December 2011 - Public consultation on Plain Packaging of Tobacco Products - In April 2010 the Australian Government announced that, in a world first, all tobacco products sold in Australia would be required to be sold in plain packaging by 1 July 2012. Following Government amendments, the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (Cth) will require that all tobacco products sold in Australia are in plain packaging by 1 December 2012.

23 December 2011 - Public consultation on plain packaging of non-cigarette tobacco products - In April 2010 the Australian Government announced that, in a world first, all tobacco products sold in Australia would be required to be sold in plain packaging by 1 July 2012. Following Government amendments, the Tobacco Plain Packaging Act 2011 (Cth) will require that all tobacco products sold in Australia are in plain packaging by 1 December 2012.

18 January 2012 - Reminder Notice - Aged Care Accommodation Bonds - Governance Standard

9 January 2012 - Aged Care Complaints Scheme Translated Materials are now available

22 December 2011 - Residential Care Manual and Community Packaged Care Guidelines Websites Now Live

15 December 2011 - Accommodation Bond Refund Interest Rates

15 December 2011 - Schedule of Resident Fees and Charges from 1 January 2012

Poly Implant Prosthese (PIP) breast implants - the Australian perspective

PBS = New Listings and Changes 1 January 2012.

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

17 January 2012 - Australian Public Assessment Reports for prescription medicines (AusPARs) - Added Gamunex

12 January 2012 - Information regarding tests that have been conducted on silicone gel filled breast implants manufactured by Poly-Implant Prothese (PIP) - Information regarding tests that have been conducted on silicone gel filled breast implants manufactured by Poly-Implant Prothese (PIP)

12 January 2012 - Consumer questions & answers - PIP breast implants - Questions and answers for consumers about breast implants

12 January 2012 - Orphan drugs - Added somatropin to the list of designated orphan drugs

11 January 2012 - Compositional guideline: Fish oil - natural - Added to current compositional guideline page

10 January 2012 - Documents released under Section 11C of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 - Added FOI 174-1112 & FOI 037-1112 documents

7 January 2012 - New information phone line for women concerned about their breast implants - The Gillard Government today announced a new hotline for women concerned about their breast implants

7 January 2012 - Breast Implant Information Line - 1800 217 257 - The Australian Government has set up a free-call help line for individuals concerned about breast implants

4 January 2012 - Currently no evidence of increased rupture rate for PIP breast implants in Australia, further investigations ongoing - The Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) advises Australian women that there is currently no evidence of increased rupture rate for PIP implants in this country

3 January 2012 - Prescription medicine BPR update newsletter, December 2011 - December 2011 issue of the Prescription Medicines Business Process Review newsletter

3 January 2012 - Resignation of Dr Rohan Hammett - The Parliamentary Secretary for Health, Catherine King thanks the retiring National Manager of the TGA, Dr Rohan Hammett

23 December 2011 - Pneumovax 23 - updated revaccination recommendations - Updated revaccination recommendations following the TGA investigation of Pneumovax 23 adverse events

22 December 2011 - Lipro Diet Pills - The TGA has tested this product and found that it contains an undeclared prescription substance, sibutramine

21 December 2011 - Poly Implant Prothese silicone gel breast implants - The French regulatory authority is continuing to investigate adverse events reported in patients with silicone gel breast implants manufactured by Poly Implant Prothese (PIP)

21 December 2011 - Scheduling news - Updates and news about scheduling medicines and poisons

21 December 2011 - Public submissions on scheduling matters referred to ACCS#3 and ACMS#4 (October 2011) - Public submissions on scheduling matters for ACCS & ACMS October 2011 meetings

19 December 2011 - Presentations about manufacturing therapeutic goods - Added National Validation Forum presentation

19 December 2011 - Prescribing medicines in pregnancy database - Updated database

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency & the boards

16 January 2012 - The new 2012 professions are urged to prepare for joining the National Scheme Read Article

28 December 2011 - The Dental Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué Read Article

16 January 2012 - The Medical Board of Australia releases its guidelines on technologybased consultations Read Article

16 January 2012 - The Board is seeking parties to review the National Competency Standards for Nurse Practitioners Read Article

10 January 2012 - Revised PII registration standard and new PII guidelines for midwives in place from today Read Article

16 January 2012 - The Optometry Board is calling for expressions of interest from experienced optometrists and community members Read Article

23 December 2011 - The Optometry Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué Read Article

22 December 2011 - The Pharmacy Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué Read Article

28 December 2011 - The Podiatry Board has implemented a policy on Log Sheets for the Endorsement of Scheduled Medicines Read Article

22 December 2011 - The Podiatry Board of Australia releases its latest Communiqué Read Article

17 January 2012 - Psychology supervisor list is now available online Read Article

28 December 2011 - The Psychology Board of Australia announces two forums to be held in Tasmania Read Article

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

18 January 2012 - National Residential Medication Chart RACF Staff Survey

18 January 2012 - National residential medication chart analysis

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

24 December 2011 - New Research Collaboration to Target Dementia

NHMRC Research Tracker - 13 January 2012 edition

NHMRC Newsletter - December 2011 (PDF, 680KB)

NHMRC Health Tracker - December 2011

Australian Competition & Consumer Commission

ACCC institutes proceedings against commercial breast imaging providers - The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) has instituted proceedings in the Federal Cour...Issued: Issued: 5 January 2012 Release # NR 003/12

Capped fees for after-hours medical care in the ACT to continue - The ACCC is proposing to allow CALMS Ltd, the after-hours locum medical service which operates in... Issued: Issued: 16 December 2011 Release # NR 247/11

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare

20 January 2012 - Child protection Australia 2010–11 media release

22 December 2011 - Monitoring acute coronary syndrome using national hospital data: An information paper on trends and issues

21 December 2011 - Australia's mothers and babies 2009 (media release)

20 December 2011 - 2010 Australian national infant feeding survey: indicator results (media release)

19 December 2011 - Neural tube defects in Australia (media release)

Australia. Private Health Insurance Administration Council

12/02-18 January 2012-The Operations of Private Health Insurers Annual Report 2010- 11-CURRENT EDITION- 12/02

12/01-4 January 2012-Capital Adequacy Standard – Market Yield Rate December 2011- CURRENT EDITION- 12/01

11/21-22 December 2011-New calculation of the Risk Equalisation Trust Fund for 2009- 2010 financial year-current edition- 11/21

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

New South Wales. Department of Health

Media releases

Policy directives and guidelines

Information bulletins

Northern Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

  • 18 January 2012 - Hygiene warning as Crypto cases double -Territorians are being urged to exercise careful hygiene and food safety practices, following a notable rise in the number of cases of the stomach bug Cryptosporidium in recent weeks.
  • 16 January 2012 - Territory Organ Donation Rates Double in 2011 - Organ donor rates in the Northern Territory doubled last year, putting the NT third in the country behind South Australia and Victoria with 17.5 donors per million people.
  • 11 January 2012 - Don't bring dengue home from holidays - The NT Centre for Disease control is urging travellers to make every effort to protect themselves against disease carrying mosquitoes when holidaying in South East Asia.
  • 9 January 2012 - Dental decay doesn't take school holidays - Regular teeth cleaning is one routine that children should keep up during the school holidays, the NT's Principal Dentist Chris
  • Handbury urged today.
  • 6 January 2012 - Wet season again brings melioidosis dis - Top Enders are being warned to protect against the potentially fatal disease melioidosis, with 18 cases of the bacteria infection diagnosed already this Wet Season.
  • 30 December 2011 - Treat Top End flood waters with respect - Territory flood water such as those currently affecting the Katherine and Daly River areas present many potential hazards, and special care should be taken around all water bodies, especially swollen rivers, NT Chief Health Officer, Dr Barbara Paterson warned today.
  • 22 December 2011 - Avoid the "Christmas Blues" this festive season - The festive season is all about "good cheer" but the extra stress and loneliness that some experience can make Christmas one of the most difficult times of the year.
  • 21 December 2011 - Medicines a must for cyclone kits - The cyclone season is not a time to let essential medications run low, or to become out of date or for prescriptions to expire according to Royal Darwin Hospital Director of Pharmacy, Bhavini Patel.

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases

On 12 December 2011, the Premier announced Queensland Health will be replaced with two new agencies with the goal to deliver even better health services to Queenslanders.

South Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Media releases

Victoria. Department of Health

Media releases

Blood matters program - Blood management in elective orthopaedic surgery 2009

Scholarships available for Victorian applicants for the Graduate Certificate in Transfusion Practice 2012 - Victorian individuals undertaking this course in 2012 are invited to apply to Blood Matters for scholarship funding. For more information regarding the Graduate Certificate in Transfusion Practice - Scholarship Guidelines for the Graduate Certificate in Transfusion Practice 2012

Chief Psychiatrist's Guidelines - Promoting sexual safety, responding to sexual activity, and managing allegations of sexual assault in adult acute inpatient units - January 2012 (PDF file 452KB)

Victorian Surgical Consultative Council - Managing the Deteriorating Patient Seminar Thursday 23rd February 2012

Supported Residential Services -Regulatory Impact Statement (RIS) consultation December 2011

RiskWatch newsletter, December 2011

Hospital circulars

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Public Report 2010 July 2010 - June 2011 – Energy Efficiency Opportunities program (PDF)

Read Healthview Summer 2011 (PDF 1.9MB)

New Zealand. Ministry of Health

Healthy Beginnings: Developing perinatal and infant mental health services in New Zealand - 20 January 2012 - This document provides guidance on improving the range, quality and national consistency of perinatal and infant mental health services in New Zealand and their integration with primary care, maternity, child health and other social services. Read more

Reporting Suicide: A resource for the media - 22 December 2011 - A new resource for the media reporting of suicide has been adopted by New Zealand print and broadcast media agencies. Read more

Youth Forensic Services Development - 21 December 2011 - This document provides guidance on improving the range, quality and national consistency of the youth forensic services that are available in New Zealand. Read more

Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2008 – 2012: Second Progress Report - 21 December 2011 - Summary The New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan 2008- 2012: Second Progress Report outlines further progress. Read more

Drinking-water Cost Benefit Analysis - 20 December 2011 - The Drinking-water Cost Benefit Analysis covers two reports from Law and Economic Consulting Group (LECG) and Beca Group Ltd. Read more

United Kingdom. Department of Health

The week: issue 231 - In this week's edition, read the latest advice on PIP implants. Views are sought on draft statutory guidance on JSNAs and joint health and wellbeing strategies and Minister Paul Burstow has reaffirmed his commitment to 3millionlives at an event today.

Consultation on low secure services and psychiatric intensive care - A consultation document on low secure services and psychiatric intensive care is being issued today for a three month consultation by stakeholders.

Views sought on changing the law to find cure for inherited mitochondrial disease - The Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority has been asked to lead a public discussion. The public will be asked if they think the law should be changed to allow a new scientific procedure to be introduced that could prevent women with a mitochondrial disease from passing it to their children. The discussion will be launched later this year.

Advice on PiP implants - The latest advice from the NHS and plastic surgery experts is that women with PiP breast implants do not need to have them removed unless they have symptoms such as ... Read more

New objectives set to reduce MRSA and C Difficile - New ambitions have been set for the NHS, which build on the progress made on infections last year. The NHS is being asked to collectively reduce the numbers of infections ... Read more

New approach to education and training published - The policy framework for a new approach to workforce planning and the education and training of the health workforce is published today. It puts employers and professionals in the driving ... Read more

Canada. Health Canada

Horizon Health Network to expand smoking cessation model throughout Atlantic Canada [17 January 2012]

Harper Government Creates Advisory Committee on Traditional Chinese Medicines [12 January 2012]

United States of America. Department of Health & Human Services

New National Biodefense Science Board members will advise HHS - Seven experts from outside the Federal Government will join the National Biodefense Science Board (NBSB), a federal advisory committee which provides expert advice and guidance on preventing, preparing for, and responding to adverse health effects of public health emergencies to the HHS Secretary and the HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR). The new members replace members whose four-year terms expire 31 January 2012.

HHS commits nearly $1.8 million to health initiatives in Guatemala and to improving global human research protections | En Español - The US Department of Health and Human Services will invest approximately $1.8 million to increase its efforts to improve the treatment and prevention of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases (STD) in Guatemala and to further strengthen ethical training on human research protections.

Australian Medical Association

Practical plan needed to get doctors to live and work in rural Australia - AMA Submission to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry into the Factors Affecting the Supply of Health Services and Medical Professionals in Rural Areas. The AMA has made an extensive submission to the Senate Community Affairs Reference Committee Inquiry into the Factors Affecting the Supply of Health Services and Medical Professionals in Rural Areas, setting out viable strategies to improve access to health care for people living in rural and remote Australia. AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said today that a broad practical plan that incorporates clever thinking and local solutions is needed to attract doctors to rural practice and keep them in local communities for the long term.

Indigenous medical students encouraged to apply for AMA Scholarship - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton today encouraged Indigenous medical students to apply for the 2012 AMA Indigenous Peoples' Medical Scholarship. Dr Hambleton said that an important part of closing the Indigenous health and life expectancy gap is to build an adequate workforce that includes Indigenous doctors and health professionals.

Privacy decision on health family history is common sense - The AMA welcomes the decision by the Privacy Commissioner to issue a fresh public interest determination covering the collection of family and social medical histories by medical practitioners and other health service providers. This determination ensures that doctors can continue to collect third-party health information that is relevant to a patient's family or social history without the family member having to give their consent.

Submission: Guidelines for continued dispensing of eligible prescribed medicines by pharmacists - The AMA wrote to the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia on 15 November 2011 opposing the continued dispensing proposal under the Fifth Community Pharmacy Agreement. Continued dispensing will represent a significant change in the professional role of pharmacists and their role within the health care team. The draft guidelines circulated by the Pharmaceutical Society of Australia heighten the AMA's concerns that continued dispensing will undermine the collaboration between pharmacists and medical practitioners.

Submission: Inquiry into the Factors Affecting the Supply of Health Services and Medical Professionals in Rural Areas - The AMA has identified the medical workforce shortage as a major health issue with the overall distribution of doctors being skewed heavily towards major cities such that regional, rural and remote areas shoulder a disproportionate workforce shortage burden. There is a strong preference amongst much of the current medical workforce to live and work in major cities. So much so that attracting young professionals to rural locations is extremely difficult. The AMA believes the factors affecting the supply of medical workforce in rural areas should be viewed in the context of generalism; remuneration and incentives; hospital infrastructure; compensation and family support; costs of establishing a practice and access to community; high on-call demands and the need for rosters and locum services;and recruitment of International Medical Graduates (IMG) doctors. The submission makes a series of recommendations addressing these issues as well as the effect of the introduction of Medicare Locals, anomalies with the ASGC scheme and the need to extend MBS telehealth items.

New year focus needed on child and youth health - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton today called on the Government and health groups to place a renewed focus on child and youth health issues in 2012. Children and young people confront a range of health issues including poor diet and obesity, anxiety, depression, substance abuse and bullying. The degree to which these conditions have an impact can be influenced by socio-economic factors.

AMA urges clampdown on alcohol marketing to young people - AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said today that the AMA is urging governments to impose tougher restrictions on alcohol marketing to young people. Dr Hambleton said the warmer weather and high profile sporting and music events make summer the ideal time for alcohol companies to exploit current loopholes in advertising regulations and launch mass advertising and marketing campaigns that encourage teenagers and young people to drink, often recklessly.

© DLA Piper

This publication is intended as a general overview and discussion of the subjects dealt with. It is not intended to be, and should not used as, a substitute for taking legal advice in any specific situation. DLA Piper Australia will accept no responsibility for any actions taken or not taken on the basis of this publication.

DLA Piper Australia is part of DLA Piper, a global law firm, operating through various separate and distinct legal entities. For further information, please refer to

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