Australia: Health Alert (Australia) - 29 April 2013


New South Wales

Varipatis v Almario [2013] NSWCA 76

The appellant General Practitioner (GP) had been found negligent in his treatment of the plaintiff. The plaintiff had sought treatment for toxic exposure and had been morbidly obese since commencing as the appellant's patient. The plaintiff failed to lose weight and subsequently developed cirrhosis of the liver and fatal liver cancer. At trial the plaintiff had argued that the appellant had failed to prevent the development of liver cancer as he had not taken steps at the relevant time that a reasonable general practitioner would have to treat the plaintiff's obesity.

In relation to the reasonable care required of a GP in the circumstances Meagher, Basten and Ward JA found that:

  • There is an obligation to only advise that weight loss is necessary to protect the patient's health, discuss means by which that may be achieved and to offer and encourage acceptance of referrals.
  • Expert evidence supported that at the relevant time an endocrinologist, not a GP, would reasonably have been expected to refer to a bariatric surgeon.

Their Honours also found that there was no evidence that the plaintiff would have actually lost the necessary weight had the appellant properly advised him about the cause of his liver disease or other health problems and as he had not acted on previous referrals it could not be established that the plaintiff would have lost weight on referral to an obesity clinic or hepatologist. Their Honours ordered that the orders of the trial judge be set aside.

New South Wales. Nurses & Midwives Tribunal

Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) v Waddell No 2 [2013] NSWNMT 2 (27 March 2013)

A complaint had been made against a former nurse for alleged unsatisfactory professional conduct and professional misconduct on the grounds that she formed an improper relationship with a patient. The Tribunal ordered that had Ms Waddell been registered as a nurse, it would have cancelled her registration, and ordered that the Board record that fact. It also disqualified her for three years from the date of the decision, and ordered she pay the costs of the HCCC.

The claim against the nurse centred on alleged breaches of professional boundaries in forming an inappropriate relationship with a patient she had been the primary care nurse for during two admissions for treatment of alcoholism and Major Depression. The Tribunal was satisfied that the judgment and care that the nurse possessed was significantly below the standard reasonably expected of a registered nurse of equivalent training or experience. The Tribunal was also satisfied by the nurse's admissions and the evidence that she had engaged in improper and unethical conduct relating to the practice of nursing.

The Tribunal emphasised that the purpose of their orders is protection, not punishment. The primary focus is the protection of the public from "harm caused by health practitioners who do not meet the standards required by the law and codes of conduct." The secondary focus is the protection of the integrity of the relevant profession. The Tribunal stated that there was no place for a punitive objective in making orders consequential to a finding of professional misconduct.



National health (Prescriber bag supplies) Amendment Determination 2013 (No. 1) (No. PB 23 of 2013)

National health (Price and special patient contribution) Amendment Determination 2013 (No. 3) (No. PB 22 of 2013)

Therapeutic goods information (Stakeholder consultation on database of adverse event notifications - medical devices) Specification 2013

Health insurance (Allied health services) Amendment Determination 2013 (No. 1)

South Australia

18 April 2013 - Advance Care Directives Act 2013 (Act 12/2013) - Gazette No 24, page 1124


23 April 2013 - Assisted Reproductive Treatment Amendment Act 2013


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media release

22 April 2013 - Australia leading the world in addressing dementia - Australia has been recognised on the world stage as the global leader in addressing dementia.

23 April 2013 - Daily Avian Influenza virus A(H7N9) situation update.

H7N9 Influenza - Laboratory investigation for patients with suspected infection - PHLN recommendations for laboratories..

Australia. National Health Performance Authority

11 April 2013 - Healthy communities: Immunisation rates for children in 2011-12.

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council

National Health Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Health Tracker - April 2013 edition.

Australian Commission on Safety & Quality in Health Care

22 April 2013 - On the Radar – Issue 124 (81KB).

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency & the boards

19 April 2013 - Call for nominations or expressions of interest for health practitioners and community members to join the Psychology Board of Australia's List of approved persons for panel appointments. | Read article

19 April 2013 - The Medical Board of Australia (MBA) and Queensland (QLD) Board of the MBA have issued a joint statement. | Read article

23 April 2013 - The National Board has published an explanatory note for people working in a health profession other than nursing and/or midwifery who wish to use the title nurse and/or midwife. | Read article

22 April 2013 - The Nursing and Midwifery Board of Australia has published revised frequently asked questions for continuing professional development for nurses and midwives. | Read article

23 April 2013 - The Psychology Board of Australia has released the presentation from the 21 March 2013 Brisbane public forum. | Read article

19 April 2013 - Call for nominations or expressions of interest for health practitioners and community members to join the Psychology Board of Australia's List of approved persons for panel appointments. | Read article

18 April 2013 - The Board has released a consultation paper on the Guidelines for National Psychology Examination. The consultation is open until 27 May 2013. | Read article

18 April 2013 - The Board has updated information on the national psychology examination. New resources are available, including example examination questions and additional resources for the assessment domain. | Read article

24 April 2013 - The Podiatry Board of Australia releases its latest newsletter. | Read article

Australian Institute of Health & Welfare

Australian hospital statistics 2011-12 (4.5MB PDF)

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

19 March 2013 - TGA presentation given to visitors from the Iraq Ministry of Health. - This presentation provides a general overview of the TGA and our regulatory processes for medicines, medical devices, and blood and blood components.

24 April 2013 - Notice: Amended publication date for invitation for public comment - Advisory Committee on Medicines Scheduling (ACMS) meeting, July 2013 - The scheduled notice inviting public submissions for the July 2013 ACMS meeting will be published on 1 May 2013, instead of 24 April 2013.

19 April 2013 - Documents released under Section 11C of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 - Added FOI 152-1213.

19 April 2013 - Submissions and TGA response: Tocotrienols complex - palm: Proposed revision of draft compositional guideline. The TGA would like to thank stakeholders who submitted written comments on the proposed revision of the Tocotrienols complex - palm draft compositional guideline.

19 April 2013 - Tocotrienols complex - palm: Proposed revision of draft compositional guideline, 2nd round consultation. The TGA is seeking comments on proposed revisions and amendments to the draft compositional guideline for Tocotrienols complex.

19 April 2013 - Mojo Risen capsules. Mojo Risen Capsules pose a serious risk to your health and should not be taken.

Australian Capital Territory. (ACT) Health Directorate

Media release

19 April 2013 - ACT signs up to long term National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) arrangements - Katy Gallagher, MLA.

New South Wales. Ministry of Health

Media releases

23 April 2013 - Communities given more power to tackle drug and alcohol abuse.

22 April 2013 - National rugby league stars join "know when to say when" campaign.

22 April 2013 - Great day for dental health care in New South Wales (NSW).

20 April 2013 - Three people diagnosed with listeriosis in Sydney.


24 April 2013 - NSW Health & Ageing and Disability and Home Care (ADHC) Joint Guideline - GL2013_001.

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases

QLD Health nurses pay better off than under Labor.

Partner with QLD Health: register your ideas and view the contestability pipeline.

South Australia. Department for Health & Ageing

Media releases

23 April 2013 - New chemotherapy unit for Clare. Minister for Health and Ageing Jack Snelling and Nick Champion MP, Federal Member for Wakefield, will officially open the new $442,000 chemotherapy unit in Clare today. | Read article

22 April 2013 - Mental health support for older South Australians. Construction of a new, $12 million Older Persons Mental Health Unit at The Queen Elizabeth Hospital has been completed. | Read article

19 April 2013 - First floor for the new Royal Adelaide Hospital (RAH). The State Government has celebrated another major construction milestone for the new RAH, with the pouring of the first above ground concrete floor in the future mental health unit. | Read article

Tasmania. Department of Health

22 April 2013 - DisabilityCare Australia forums.

19 April 2013 - Emergency care improves.

19 April 2013 - Air quality system provides breath of fresh air.

Victoria. Department of Health

Media releases

22 April 2013 - Coalition delivers $120 million boost for Victorian hospitals. Hospitals around Victoria will receive $120 million to replace vital medical equipment and carry out infrastructure upgrades, Premier Denis Napthine said today.

19 April 2013 - Victorian health services performing well. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare Australian hospital statistics 2011–12 report confirms that Victoria continues to treat more patients in record numbers, Minister for Health David Davis said today.

21 April 2013 - Largest ever boost for mental health in the west. A new 54 bed acute mental health facility will be built in Werribee in Melbourne's West, Premier Denis Napthine said today.

Legionnaires' disease – alert for Health professionals

23 April 2013 - We're closer to closing the gap.

16 April 2013 - Prevention and management of violence and aggression in hospitals forum.

Victorian Cancer Agency Consultative Council

Victoria. Health Services Commissioner

Free seminar health privacy An Introduction to the Health Records Act 2001 (Vic)

Western Australia. Department of Health

Media releases

22 April 2013 - Immunisation the safest and most effective way to prevent diseases.

19 April 2013 - Fellowships to encourage a career in research.

Western Australia. Public Sector Commission

Peel Health Campus Inquiry - Report.

New Zealand. Ministry of Health

Regional results from the 2011/12 New Zealand Health Survey.

United Kingdom. Department of Health

New panel members to advise ministers on proposed National Health Scheme (NHS) changes.

Canada. Health Canada

19 April 2013 - A statement from the Honourable Leona Aglukkaq, Minister of Health, in support of MP Dean Allison's Motion M-230. Severe anaphylaxis.

19 April 2013 - Interim regulatory oversight of admixing and compounding.

Australian Medical Association (AMA)

A few doctors incur wrath of the many.

Medical workhorses missing out as hospital training stretched.

Chronic disease items, intern concerns canvassed in high-level talks.

Every breath you take could be hurting you.

Fears deadly bird flu may be spreading between people.

Measles outbreak linked to discredited anti-vax study.

Involuntary or coerced sterilisation of people with disabilities: a confronting issue.

High bar set to dob in a doctor.

Obese patient loses landmark legal action against GP.

Male baldness linked to heart disease.

Education expense cap to put lives, quality health care at risk.

Cash splashes don't fix waiting lists.

Anti-vax parents failing in responsibility to all.

Psychiatrists battle over when 'normal' becomes disorder.

Australians among most likely to go under knife.

Australians pay heavy price for poor trade deals.

Chiropractor accreditation from anti-vaccination campaigner.

Gene discoveries could boost cancer detection.

A jab the only real protection from the flu.

World faces 'catastrophic threat' from superbugs.

British Medical Association (BMA)

22 April 2013 - Ambulance crews wait six years for patients to be admitted. Ambulances spent almost 55,000 hours waiting outside Welsh hospitals over the last six months, figures released under the Freedom of Information Act have revealed.

22 April 2013 - Standards expected of doctors come into force. Doctors will need to meet updated standards on their conduct, skills and knowledge from today.

19 April 2013 - Doctor finds own advice on healthy living tough to follow. A doctor has spoken of the insight into patients' lives he gained by participating in a six month campaign challenging NHS staff to live more healthily.

19 April 2013 - BMA prepares support initiative for GPs. The BMA is to launch an initiative to support GPs and patients through the challenges facing general practice.

19 April 2013 - Royal college plans show of support for Staff, Associate Specialist and Specialty (SAS) doctors. A royal college is planning a public show of support for SAS doctors just weeks after their skills came under fire.

19 April 2013 - Born equal? — the battle against child health inequality. The BMA is about to publish details of important research revealing how child health indicators have changed since the turn of the century.

18 April 2013 - Conference aims to aid doctors without revalidation link. Doctors struggling to find an appropriate connection for revalidation can find help at a BMA-hosted conference.

Canadian Medical Association (CMA)

22 April 2013 - CMA, New Brunswick Medical Society (NBMS) applaud call for national debate on health care.

American Medical Association (AMA)

22 April 2013 - AMA Unveils first phase of improving health outcomes initiative: Preventing cardiovascular disease and Diabetes. The AMA announced the first phase of its new multi-year, multimillion dollar improving health outcomes (IHO) initiative: preventing cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes and improving health outcomes for those with these conditions.

23 April 2013 - Wondering what to do with unused or expired drugs? The AMA encourages patients to participate in the Drug Enforcement Administration's (DEA) National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on April 27 to safely dispose of their unused or expired prescription drugs.

© DLA Piper

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