Australia: Health Alert - 26 March 2012

Last Updated: 27 March 2012
Article by Anthony Willis


New South Wales

Australian Vaccination Network Inc v Health Care Complaints Commission [2012] NSWSC 110 (24 February 2012)

The Health Care Complaints Commission (defendant) investigated two complaints against the Australian Vaccination Network Inc (plaintiff) alleging that it engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct. The plaintiff provided information to dissuade people from being, or having their children, vaccinated. The defendant investigated the complaint, made recommendations in a report and issued a public warning that the plaintiff's information posed a risk to public safety.

The plaintiff sought a declaration in the Supreme Court of New South Wales that the defendant did not have power under law to perform the investigation. The parties agreed that the defendant had power to investigate "a health service which affects the clinical management or care of an individual client".

The defendant argued that the definition applies to the plaintiff because people access the information and use it to make vaccination decisions. It submitted that it did not need to identify a particular person who was affected. The plaintiff argued that a particular individual had to be affected and this is not satisfied by providing information to the public at large.

The court found that it needed to decide on the point (it was a jurisdictional fact) and held that a causal connection was needed otherwise the words were irrelevant. It held that the defendant was not able to point to an individual client who was affected, so the causal connection was not established. It made a declaration that the investigation was beyond power (ultra vires).

New South Wales. Medical Tribunal

15 February 2012 - Hasil, Roman

12 March 2012 - Tsouroutis, Michael

The Health Care Complaints Commission brought proceedings in the Medical Tribunal of New South Wales (Tribunal) against Dr Michael Tsouroutis (respondent) alleging either unsatisfactory professional conduct or professional misconduct.

The respondent failed to comply with a condition on his registration requiring him to meet with a professional mentor at regular intervals (such condition imposed because he was found guilty of prescribing drugs without exercising responsible judgment).

The respondent conceded that he breached this condition and that he was guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct. However, he denied that he was guilty of professional misconduct. To this end, the role of the Tribunal was to determine whether the respondent's conduct was of a sufficiently serious nature to justify suspension or cancellation of his registration.

The Tribunal was critical of the respondent's failure to respond to letters from the New South Wales Medical Board requesting a report from his mentor and the fact that he misled his psychiatrist regarding attendance at meetings with his mentor.

The Tribunal acknowledged that personal circumstances caused the respondent anxiety and contributed to his breach. He had a busy practice, struggled with heavy commitments as treasurer of a medical college and needed to drive over two hours to meet with his mentor.

The Tribunal found that the respondent's breach did not impact on his ability to practice medicine and to attend to his patients, and did not find him guilty of professional misconduct. The Tribunal ordered that the respondent be reprimanded for his unsatisfactory professional conduct.

Tasmanian Health Practitioners Tribunal

The Tasmanian Board of the Medical Board of Australia v Ross Douglas Whittaker (Ref No. 3/2011) [2012] TASHPT 1 (12 January 2012)

United States of America. Supreme Court

20 March 2012 - Mayo Collaborative Services v. Prometheus Laboratories, Inc.
"Tuesday, the United States Supreme Court issued a unanimous (9-0) decision in Mayo Collaborative Servs. v. Prometheus Labs., Inc. In holding that Prometheus's claims were not eligible for patenting, the Court stated that the claims sought to protect "the underlying laws of nature themselves" (Slip Op., p. 24), rather than a specific application of those laws of nature. The Court further emphasized that, although a claim may recite a law of nature, the novel and nonobvious aspects of the claim must be separate from the law of nature. That is, in evaluating claim elements that are separate from the law of nature recitation, the §101 patent-eligibility inquiry and inquiries under §§102, 103, and 112 may overlap. (Id. at p. 21.) Although this Opinion was issued in the context of a diagnostic method, the positions taken by the Court affect other technologies as well." (National Law Review, 21 March 2012)

LEGISLATION Commonwealth

New South Wales

Mental Health Commission Act 2012 No. 13 - assent on 21 March 2012.

Northern Territory

Mental Health and Related Services Amendment Act 2012 No. 3 (NT) was assented to on 21 March 2012 (not available on the internet).

South Australia

Mental Health (Inpatient) Amendment Bill 2012 - House of Assembly second reading speech 14 March 2012.


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

  • 22 March 2012 - Celebrating Close the Gap Day - Hundreds of events will be staged across the country on 22 March to mark National Close the Gap Day.
  • 22 March 2012 - Health Research Investment Delivering Back to the Economy - The Minister for Indigenous Health, Warren Snowdon has welcomed research showing government investment in a leading Northern Territory health research school is delivering a threefold return to the economy.
  • 19 March 2012 - Making Sure Our Carers are OK - Australia's 2.6 million carers will have access to emotional and psychological support into the future with the announcement today that funding has been guaranteed for counselling services for carers for an extra year.
  • 16 March 2012 - Private Health Insurance Rebate Mean-test Becomes Law - Health Minister, Tanya Plibersek welcomed the passage of legislation through parliament to means-test the private health insurance rebate on 16 March 2012.

Private Health Insurance Circulars

Revised Residential Care Fees and Charges - Schedule of Fees and Charges: From 20 March 2012

Australian National Council on Drugs

Naltrexone Position Statement 2012

Australia. Parliament. House of Representatives. Standing Committee on Health & Ageing

Inquiry into Dementia: Early diagnosis and Intervention - On Tuesday 20 March 2012, the Minister for Mental Health, the Hon Mark Butler MP asked the Committee to inquire into and report on "Dementia: Early diagnosis and Intervention". The Committee invites interested persons and organisations to make submissions addressing the terms of reference by Wednesday 2 May 2012. - Terms of reference

Roundtable on Late Effects of Polio/Post-Polio Syndrome

Australia. Parliament. Senate. Standing Committee on Community Affairs

Personally Controlled Electronic Health Records Bill 2011 - Report

Australia. National Medical Health & Research Council

16 March 2012 - ICGC launches new project and releases more genomic data on cancer

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency & The Boards

  • 22 March 2012 - The Medical Board consults on a proposed registration standard for endorsement for acupuncture. | Read Article
  • 22 March 2012 - The Medical Board consults on draft supplementary guidelines on cosmetic medical and surgical procedures. | Read Article
  • 20 March 2012 - The [Medical Radiation Practice] Board has released the presentation used during recent information sessions. | Read Article
  • 19 March 2012 - The Medical Board, Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and Australian Medical Council welcome focus on International Medical Graduates. | Read Article
  • 19 March 2012 - The Chinese Medicine Board of Australia releases its latest communiqué. | Read Article
  • 19 March 2012 - The Podiatry Board of Australia releases a sample log sheet for Endorsement of Scheduled Medicines. | Read Article
  • 16 March 2012 - The [Medical Radiation Practice] Board has been reviewing further qualifications for inclusion on the Equivalent Qualifications List. | Read Article
  • 15 March 2012 - The Medical Board of Australia releases a statement on who should be registered. | Read Article
  • 15 March 2012 - The Chair of the [Psychology] Board, Professor Brin Grenyer, invites you to attend a national forum. | Read Article
  • 14 March 2012 - The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia releases its latest communiqué. | Read Article
  • 14 March 2012 - The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health Practice Board of Australia releases its latest communiqué. | Read Article
  • 9 March 2012 - The Approved Programs of Study list for Chinese Medicine has been updated. | Read Article

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration

Australian Capital Territory. Department of Health

New South Wales. Ministry of Health

Media releases

Policy directives

Towards an Aboriginal Health Plan for NSW: Discussion Paper-20/03/2012

Northern Territory. Department of Health

Media releases

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

March 2012 - Council of Obstetric and Paediatric Mortality and Morbidity Newsletter

Be alert for whooping cough

Media releases

Victoria. Department of Health

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

New Zealand. Ministry of Health

United Kingdom. Department of Health

Canada. Health Canada

United States. Department of Health & Human Services

  • HHS sponsors contest for Web app to identify local health trends - The person or team developing the best application will receive $21,000 from the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) as well as a US$1,000 travel stipend to attend an event announcing the winner. In addition, the winner will be invited to present the winning tool at a Fusion Forum, a discussion series sponsored by ASPR's Fusion Cell for state and local health officials to help identify pioneering ways to move from open source information into use as a public health response. The winning application will be made available to state, territorial, tribal and local health agencies across the nation for use in their communities.
  • Secretary Sebelius statement on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act ruling - We are encouraged by the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling on the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act.

Australian Medical Association (AMA)

  • More support needed for international medical graduates - The AMA welcomes the release of the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Health and Ageing's Lost in the Labyrinth report into registration processes and support for international medical graduates, also known as overseas trained doctors.
  • AMA President, Dr Steve Hambleton said today that the AMA values the immense contribution that IMGs make to the Australian health system.
  • Expression of Interest: Two new TGA Expert Advisory Committees - The TGA is seeking expressions of interest from experts for various positions on two new statutory advisory committees. These committees provide advice and make recommendations to the Minister for Health and to the TGA, in relation to their respective areas of expertise. Members will be appointed to these committees in an individual capacity by the Minister and not as a representative of an organisation. Also, members will be bound by committee-in-confidence obligations as well as obligations to declare all potential conflicts of interest.

American Medical Association

Medicines Australia

  • 20 March 2012 - New intellectual property legislation will encourage medical research - New legislation overhauling Australia's patent system will encourage medical research and bring Australia into line with intellectual property systems in other OECD countries, Medicines Australia Chief Executive, Dr Brendan Shaw said today.
  • 6 March 2012 - Global medicines industry updates Code of Practice - The International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and Associations has announced the revision and expansion of its Code of Practice, which governs how companies interact with healthcare professionals and patient organisations.

World Health Organisation (WHO)

  • 22 March 2012 - Chan to world: stand with Australia - WHO/Jim Holmes - WHO's Director-General applauds Australia's determination in fighting tobacco industry intimidation. Dr Margaret Chan today urged the world to "stand shoulder to shoulder" against the tobacco industry's attempts to overturn Australia's new path breaking tobacco control law.
  • Monitoring progress on the recruitment of health personnel - WHO has created a national self-assessment tool for member states to monitor the progress of the Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel. The Code establishes voluntary principles and practices for the ethical international recruitment of health personnel and the strengthening of health systems.

© 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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