Australia: Health Alert - 29 October 2012

Last Updated: 31 October 2012
Article by Kerry Hogan-Ross


Supreme Court of Victoria

Grinham v Tabro Meats Pty Ltd & Anor; Victorian Workcover Authority v Murray [2012] VSC 491 (23 October 2012)

Stephen Grinham (the plaintiff) sought damages from his former employer after contracting the Q fever virus at work. This claim settled. The third-party proceeding against Dr Catherine Murray and proceedings instituted against the third party by Victorian WorkCover Authority (VWA) were heard jointly. The allegations in both proceedings were identical; Dr Murray had been negligent in her provision of advice to the plaintiff.

The plaintiff attended Dr Murray's office in 2002 for immunisation against the Q fever virus. Vaccination could only be carried out if the plaintiff tested negative to the virus. Tests showed that he was a "low positive" and were deemed inconclusive. He was asked to re-attend in a month's time for further testing. The plaintiff did not re-attend and in 2006 he was struck down with Q fever.

The court considered whether or not the defence afforded by section 59 of the Wrongs Act 1958 (Vic) applied. Section 59 states that a professional is not negligent if it is established they acted in a manner that was widely accepted in Australian by a number of respected practitioners in the field as competent. The court found in this case that this section did not apply, but that if it were to be considered, the court would find that there was not enough evidence to establish the approach taken by Dr Murray was widely accepted in Australia as competent so that defence was not available.

Nevertheless, both claims were dismissed as Tabro and VWA had failed to establish, applying the normal principles of negligence, that Dr Murray was negligent in her advice.

Western Australia. State Administrative Tribunal

Medical Board of Australia and Woollard [2012] WASAT 209 (19 October 2012)

The Medical Board of Australia (the applicant) brought an allegation to the Tribunal that Dr Woollard (the respondent) had acted carelessly or incompetently in his conduct of an angioplasty.

The respondent performed a right coronary angioplasty on a patient in August 2006. During the procedure, the balloon catheter that the respondent was using to clear a blockage burst.

The applicant alleged that the respondent caused the balloon to be inflated to a pressure of 18 atmospheres, which was four atmospheres above the balloon's Rated Burst Pressure (RBP). The respondent denied this and claimed that he had only inflated the balloon to 15 atmospheres and after the balloon did not clear the blockage, he instructed the scrub nurse to fully deflate the balloon before reinflating to 15 atmospheres.

The applicant also alleged that inflating the balloon to 18 atmospheres, failing to withdraw the balloon before inflating it beyond 15 atmospheres and failing to replace it with a balloon with a higher RBP was careless or incompetent.

The Tribunal heard evidence from two nurses present during the procedure. Although neither nurse could remember specifics of the procedure, they used their knowledge and notes from the procedure to give evidence. The Tribunal considered the evidence and held that it was more probable than not that the respondent had caused the balloon to be inflated to 18 atmospheres.

The Tribunal found that the respondent had acted carelessly but not incompetently. The parties were given time to prepare submissions in relation to penalty and cost.



Health Workforce Australia (Eligibility) Instrument 2012 (No. 1) - F2012L02069 " as made

Health Insurance (Endovenous Laser Therapy) Determination 2012 (No. 2) - F2012L02063 " as made

New South Wales

Cancer Institute (NSW) Amendment Bill 2012

South Australia

Advance Care Directives Bill 2012

Western Australia

Mental Health Amendment (Psychiatrists) Bill 2012


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

Private health insurance circulars

Australian Government response to the report of the Senate Select Committee on Men's Health

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency and the Boards

25 October 2012 - The Podiatry Board of Australia releases its latest communiqué

24 October 2012 - The Medical Radiation Practice Board of Australia releases its latest communiqué

24 October 2012 - The Osteopathy Board of Australia releases its latest newsletter

24 October 2012 - The Physiotherapy Board of Australia releases its latest communiqué

22 October 2012 - The National Board (Psychology) has released the September figures on Board approved supervisors in Australia

19 October 2012 - Call for Nominations or Expressions of Interest for a health practitioner to join the VIC/ACT/TAS Regional Board of the Psychology Board of Australia

Australian Commission on Safety and Quality in Health Care

On the Radar – 22 October 2012 – Issue 102 (84KB)

Australia. National Health and Medical Research Council

Research Tracker – 19 October 2012

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

26 October 2012 - Key date for sponsors of biologicals - 30 November 2012 - 30 November 2012 is a key date for sponsors of biologicals that are currently supplied in Australia but are not currently included in the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG).

26 October 2012 - Biological application - The form to apply for inclusion of a biological in the ARTG is an electronic application form, available on the TGA eBusiness Services portal.

26 October 2012 - Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medicines - Added 2013 meeting dates.

23 October 2012 - "Blue card" adverse reaction reporting form - Updated form.

22 October 2012 - TGA presentation given at information sessions on minor variations to prescription medicines, 26 September - 17 October 2012 - The presentation explains the outcomes of the recent review of business processes for making minor variations to prescription medicines and how the outcomes will be implemented.

22 October 2012 - Orphan drugs - Added to the list of designated orphan drugs: denosumab (XGEVA), propranolol hydrochloride, recombinant factor IX (FIXTERA), recombinant human coagulation factor IX Fc fusion protein (rFIXFc) and carglumic acid (CARBAGLU).

22 October 2012 - TGA presentation given at International GMP Summit, Washington 12-14 September 2012 - The presentation highlights the challenges of the program and the successes achieved through collaborative efforts by international agencies.

19 October 2012 - TGA internal review guideline - This guideline provides information on the operation of internal review in TGA

Australia. Private Health Insurance Administration Council

Circular 12/30 - 23 October 2012 - Consultation Sessions - Private Health Insurance Premium Round 2013 - Update

Circular 12/29 - 22 October 2012 - Consultation Sessions - Private Health Insurance Premium Round 2013

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW)

Media release


New South Wales. Ministry of Health

Media releases


Information bulletins

Pregnancy and Infant Loss

Northern Territory. Department of Health

National Kidsafe Day 2012

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases

Queensland Health Annual Report 2011–2012 out now

South Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

Tasmania. Department of Health and Human Services

Media releases

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media release

Information circular

24 October 2012 - IC 0126/12 - Registered nurses/midwife post-graduate qualification allowance process - Review of the post-graduate qualification allowance has taken place - changes are now been implemented. Circular to inform of the new process.

Operational directive

18 October 2012 - OD 0397/12 - Use of acute oxygen therapy in Western Australian hospitals - Update to original operational directive to ensure document is in line with the current adult Western Australian observation charts; trigger to call for medical review changed from <88% to =90% (oxygen saturation level).

New Zealand. Ministry of Health

26 October 2012 - New Zealand maternity clinical indicators 2010

18 October 2012 - Annual report for the year ended 30 June 2012

18 October 2012 - Health and independence report 2012

United Kingdom. Department of Health

25 October 2012 - Health Secretary announces funding for care homes and wards specially designed for people with dementia - Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt has announced dedicated funding to create care environments for people with dementia that help reduce anxiety and distress, and help people feel safe.

24 October 2012 - Single system for nutrition labelling announced - The Department has announced proposals for front-of-pack nutrition labelling that clearly displays how much fat, saturated fat, salt and sugar and how many calories food products contain.

22 October 2012 - Health staff reminded to get flu jab - Health staff are being reminded to get vaccinated against flu to cut the risk of it spreading to patients and colleagues this winter.

Australian Medical Association (AMA)

26 October 2012 - AMA applauds future fund review of tobacco industry investments - The AMA applauds the Future Fund's decision to review its tobacco investments. In a letter to Future Fund Chair, Mr David Gonski AC, earlier this week, the AMA outlined health, moral and economic arguments against the use of Australian taxpayers' money to benefit Big Tobacco.

22 October 2012 - Junior doctors and medical students call for urgent solution to medical training crisis - Junior doctors and medical students are today calling on all Australian governments to put politics aside and work cooperatively to ensure that all locally-trained medical students are guaranteed an intern place and the opportunity to graduate and use their skills to provide much-needed medical services in local communities across the country.

British Medical Association

25 October 2012 - Social care plans demand robust funding system

25 October 2012 - Global clinician health conference starts today

24 October 2012 - Foundation programme oversubscribed again

24 October 2012 - Data and disclosure

24 October 2012 - Progress for women medical academics welcomed

24 October 2012 - Doctors shown route to claim subs tax relief

24 October 2012 - From tennis elbow to iPad hand

23 October 2012 - GPs warn of shortfall in IT support

23 October 2012 - Department of Health threatens to impose GP contract changes

23 October 2012 - HR overhaul would boost recruitment

19 October 2012 - UK's training reputation under threat

Canadian Medical Association (CMA)

25 October 2012 - CMA creates one-on-one leadership coaching program for MDs

22 October 2012 - CMA honours journalists who "rose to challenge" covering health care

© 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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