Australia: Health Alert (Australia) - 27 May 2013



Australia. Federal Court

17 May 2013 - Peterson v Merck Sharpe & Dohne (Aust) Pty Ltd (No 6) -[2013] FCA 447

This decision relates to a claim against pharmaceutical company, Merck, with plaintiffs claiming arthritis medication, Vioxx, caused heart problems. In an earlier appeal, the Court overturned an award of $330,000 to the applicant as he had other significant risk factors which contributed to his heart attack, in addition to his use of Vioxx. The appeal judgment still allowed other plaintiffs to continue their action. In the current decision, the applicant, with the respondents' consent, sought the Court's approval of a proposed settlement, as required by legislation.

Under the proposed settlement, group members who satisfied two criteria - myocardial infarction or sudden cardiac death, and the use of Vioxx at the time of injury were entitled to the following payment:

  • For living group members - $2000 or if a total of $497,500 is exceeded, an equal share of that figure.
  • For deceased group members - $1500 or if a total of $45,000 is exceed, an equal share of that figure.

The Court considered whether the proposed settlement was "fair and reasonable in the interests of group members as a whole." While the Court was satisfied that the requirements of the test to determine plaintiffs' entitlement to compensation sufficiently narrowed the class of potential beneficiaries, the proposed settlement was rejected because it made no discrimination between group members who have other risk factors, such as the applicant. The Court found this would lead to a windfall for those group members, and "an obvious injustice" for other group members who anticipated a favourable judgment.

New South Wales. Nursing & Midwifery Professional Standards Committee

9 May 2013 - HCCC v Blough -[2013] NSWNMPSC 1

The respondents were registered nurses and members of a church community. They attended and treated Mrs Maendel who collapsed in a communal bathroom having suffered a stroke. Dr Maendel, who was Mrs Maendel's son and the community General Practitioner (GP), also attended and decided, in consultation with his father, not to transfer Mrs Maendel to hospital. Instead, palliative care was provided in the community and Mrs Maendel died shortly after.

The question before the Committee was whether the respondents should have questioned Dr Maendel further about the decision not to refer his mother for further diagnosis or treatment. The Committee answered in the positive.

The Committee determined the decision not to refer Mrs Maendel was extremely serious, as it deprived her of a definitive diagnosis and of treatment options which could have resulted in her recovery. The respondents should have recognised Dr Maendel's clear conflict of interest as his mother's treating medical practitioner, and questioned his ability to advise his father. The Committee concluded that a nurse must be alert to the possibility of such a conflict of interest, and should question a medical practitioner when serious decisions are being made concerning the treatment of a family member if the medical practitioner does not propose to obtain independent medical advice where it is available.

The Committee found that Nurse Blough's conduct did not amount to unsatisfactory professional conduct, as he only treated Mrs Maendel the evening she collapsed. However, as Nurse Fischli continued treating Mrs Maendel, his conduct amounted to unsatisfactory professional conduct.

New South Wales. Nursing & Midwifery Tribunal

1 May 2013 - Health Care Complaints Commission (HCCC) v Xenia Cieslak -[2013] NSWNMT 5

Complaint – Where it is asserted that nurse suffers impairment by reason of drug addiction; complaint nurse is not competent to practise nursing by reason of long-standing addiction - Whether nurse failed to attend psychiatric examination without reasonable excuse - Whether nurse failed to make ongoing disclosure of criminal offences after registration lapsed - Whether nurse guilty of unsatisfactory professional conduct. Held - the particulars in the complaints as alleged are proven. Protective orders - Procedural fairness – Whether late service of documents on the nurse and late amendment to three complaints required the nurse be given an opportunity to put further evidence before protective orders made. Held "two stage" hearing, or opportunity for nurse to respond to orders sought, necessary.


Hatswell v Victoria - [2013] VSC 262

Administrative law - Judicial review - O 56, Supreme Court (General Civil Procedure) Rules 2005 - Medical panel - Alleged errors of law on the face of the record - Alleged misconstruction and misapplication of part VBA of the Wrongs Act 1958 ss 28LL(3), 28LZG(4) — Alleged failure to take into account relevant considerations — Findings allegedly not supported by any evidence — No evidence ground of review upheld.



Medicare levy amendment (DisabilityCare Australia) bill 2013

National health reform amendment (definitions) bill 2013

Private health insurance legislation amendment (base premium) bill 2013

National health (efficient funding of chemotherapy) special arrangement amendment instrument 2013 (No. 5) (No. PB 31 of 2013)

National Health Act 1953 - Amendment determination under paragraph 98C(1)(b) (No. PB 33 of 2013)


Australia. Department of Health & Ageing

Media releases

23 May 2013 - Integrated strategy to reduce indigenous suicide. The first national whole of government strategy specifically addressing Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide has been launched today, supported by $17.8 million in new funding over four years.

23 May 2013 - Major expansion for headspace as Early Psychosis Youth Services (EPPIC) moves forward. The successful headspace National Youth Mental Health Foundation will deliver the last remaining element of the Federal Government's $2.2 billion national mental health reform plan – EPPIC.

22 May 2013 - $1 million funding for multiple sclerosis research. Research into multiple sclerosis (MS) prevention and treatment will receive a boost, with the Australian Government to invest a further $1 million to assist Multiple Sclerosis Research Australia (MSRA) to continue its world class research.

22 May 2013 - More home-based palliative care services for Tasmania. Federal Minister for Ageing Mark Butler has announced $50 million in funding for palliative care in Tasmania was now available for services providers as part of the Government's Tasmanian health assistance package.

21 May 2013 - Major expansion for melaleuca home for the aged. A new $1.5 million wing of the Melaleuca Home for the Aged in East Devonport has been officially opened by Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler, and Federal Member for Braddon, Sid Sidebottom.

20 May 2013 - Janette Hall scholarship now open. Parliamentary Secretary for Health and Ageing Shayne Neumann announced the opening of the third round of the Janette Hall professional training and development scholarship program for health professionals in the organ and tissue donation and transplantation sectors.

20 May 2013 - South East's headspace to help young people through hard times. Young people in south-eastern Melbourne with mental health issues will get better support in dealing with their challenges, with the launch of a new headspace service in Dandenong.

Private health insurance circulars.

PHI 27/13 Release of revised data specifications for the 2012/13 HCP, HCP1 and PHDB data collections, effective 1 July 2013.

PHI 26/13 Private health insurance (data provision) amendment rules 2013 (No 1) private health insurance (health insurance business) amendment rules 2013 (No 1).

PHI 25/13 Lifetime health cover – statement of movements clarification.

Update on progress regarding living longer living better aged care reform implementation.

22 May 2013 - Call for submissions: Stage 3 of the post-market review of products used in the management diabetes. The call for public submissions is now open for Stage 3 of the diabetes review for a period of six weeks. Stage 3 focuses on medicines used in the management of type 2 diabetes mellitus. This will include analyses of utilisation, safety and adverse events, PBS listing, and PBS restrictions for these medicines. Click here to read more.

Australia. Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA)

24 May 2013 - TGA presentation given at the AusMed Tech conference, 16 May 2013 - This presentation about implementing a blueprint for the future was given at the AusMed Tech conference.

23 May 2013 - Dabigatran (pradaxa) and risk of bleeding: Information for health professionals - Updated safety information for health professionals.

23 May 2013 - Dabigatran (pradaxa) safety update: Information for consumers. Updated information for consumers taking dabigatran (pradaxa).

23 May 2013 - Documents released under Section 11C of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 - Added FOI 181-1213.

23 May 2013 - Reasons for scheduling delegate's interim decision and invitation for further comment - Interim decisions and reasons for scheduling decisions and invitation for further submissions. Closing date: 6 June 2013.

22 May 2013 - TGA advisory committee guidelines - Minor formatting changes have been made to the guidelines.

22 May 2013 - Statutory expert committee forms. Formatting amendments to the statutory expert committee form templates.

22 May 2013 - Availability of morphine sulfate injection products: Information for health professionals. Added two letters from Hospira about the DBL and Wockhardt products.

22 May 2013 - Advisory Committee on Complementary Medicines (ACCM) meeting statement, Meeting 13, 1 March 2013. Added the ACCM meeting statement.

22 May 2013 - Advisory Committee on the Safety of Medical Devices (ACSMD). Added ACSMD Orthopaedic Subcommittee (OSC) information, members and meeting dates.

22 May 2013 - Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) for sponsors: new business processes for minor variations to prescription medicines. Answers to some of the frequently asked questions from sponsors regarding the new business processes for minor variations to prescription medicines.

22 May 2013 - Outcome of consultation: Minor variations to prescription medicines: guidance and application forms. Outcomes of the consultation on guidance and application forms for making minor variations to prescription medicines.

22 May 2013 - Submissions received: Minor variations to prescription medicines: guidance and application forms. Submissions received in response to the TGA consultation on minor variations to prescription medicines: guidance and application forms.

21 May 2013 - Revised code of good manufacturing practice (GMP) for human blood and tissues. The Australian Code of GMP for human blood and blood components, human tissues and human cellular therapy products 2013 commences on 31 May 2013.

21 May 2013 - Business process review: minor variations to prescription medicines for sponsors. On 22 May 2013 the TGA will introduce changes to administrative processes for making minor variations to prescription medicines.

21 May 2013 - Australian regulatory guidelines for prescription medicines (ARGPM). Updated information for Appendix 12 and Appendix 13.

20 May 2013 - Squid oil: Draft compositional guideline. Draft compositional guideline for squid oil. Closing date: 1 July 2013.

20 May 2013 - Cancellations from the Australian Register of Therapeutic Goods (ARTG) following compliance review. Added two products cancelled from the ARTG following compliance review.

17 May 2013 - The poisons standard (the SUSMP). Updated the SUSMP section and added SUSMP No.4 forms.

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

Roundtable on skin cancer in Australia: awareness, early diagnosis and management.

Australia. National Blood Authority (NBA)

14 May 2013 - Register now for National blood symposium. NBA will be hosting one day events in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide in September to assist health providers in implementing Standard 7. | Read Article

14 May 2013 - John Hunter hospital - A case study in reducing wastage. Hunter Area Pathology Service (HAPS) has one of the lowest blood and blood product wastage rates across the country. | Read Article

Blood sector data and information strategy and scorecard 2013-16.

Australia. National Health & Medical Research Council (NHMRC)

NHMRC response to media criticism about funding of "obscure research" – The effect of acupuncture on live birth rates.

17 May 2013 - NHMRC research tracker.

May 2013 - NHMRC Health Tracker.

Australia. National E Health Transition Authority (NEHTA)

Get your personal eHealth record now! Come along to the Queensland Aboriginal & Islander Health Council (QAIHC) conference in Palm Cove on 28-29 May 2013. The eHealth truck will be parked at the Novotel Rockford Palm Cove, Coral Coast Drive Queensland 4879. | Read Article

17 May 2013 - Australian eHealth a step closer with successful trial of Secure Message Delivery. The Australian healthcare industry is one step closer to fully adopting technology in health (eHealth), with healthcare providers successfully trialling electronic information transfer and sharing. | Read Article

Welcome to our new website-Created on Monday, 13 May 2013-We are pleased today to launch our new NEHTA website providing our stakeholders with the online information, tools and support they need to adopt and implement eHealth within their communities and organisations. | Read Article

Australia. National Mental Health Commission

24 May 2013 - Commission calls for urgent action to improve the physical health of those with mental health difficulties.

23 May 2013 - Commission welcomes funding for first National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander suicide prevention strategy.

Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency (AHPRA) & the boards

23 May 2013 - The Medical Board of Australia has appointed an interim committee to deal with the work of the former Queensland Board. | Read Article

20 May 2013 - The community reference group membership has been announced. The group will advise AHPRA and the National Boards on engaging with communities. | Read Article

13 May 2013 - The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Health practice board of Australia releases its first newsletter. | Read Article

21 May 2013 - The dental board of Australia releases its latest communiqué. | Read Article

14 May 2013 - The Medical Board has published information and FAQs for medical practitioners with limited registration (public interest - occasional practice). | Read Article

16 May 2013 - The medical radiation Board has developed a dedicated page of resources and information for practitioners undertaking supervised practice. | Read Article

13 May 2013 - The osteopathy Board releases its latest communiqué. | Read Article

15 May 2013 - The physiotherapy Board of Australia releases its latest communiqué. | Read Article

15 May 2013 - The podiatry Board of Australia releases its latest communiqué. | Read Article

13 May 2013 - The psychology Board releases Issue 7 of Connections newsletter. | Read Article

Australian Commission on Safety & Quality in Health Care

Open disclosure principles, elements and process.

Implementing the Australian open disclosure framework in small practices.

Saying sorry: A guide to apologising and expressing regret.

Open disclosure FAQs for health service managers.

Open disclosure FAQs for consumers.

Open disclosure FAQs for clinicians.

Key differences between the open disclosure standard and framework.

Open disclosure: A guide for patients (flyer).

Open disclosure: A guide for patients (booklet).

Open disclosure flow chart for clinicians and health services.

20 May 2013 - On the radar – Issue 127 (80KB).

Open disclosure flow chart for consumers.

Advisory A13/05: Assessment of training requirements for credentialed medical and other clinical practitioners and visiting medical officers.

Advisory A13/03: Assessment of developmental actions in the National safety and quality health service standards.

Consultation draft: National core hospital based outcome indicator specification.

New South Wales. Ministry of Health

Media releases

23 May 2013 - Nation's mental health ministers to address lower life expectancy of people with a mental illness.

21 May 2013 - Paramedics win right to choose.

21 May 2013 - Work begins on interim upgrade for Lismore Hospital Emergency Department.

20 May 2013 - Tender awarded for new clinical services building at Blacktown Mt Druitt Hospital.

Queensland. Department of Health

Media releases

Big chunk bitten out of dental waiting lists - The Newman Government has slashed the number of patients waiting longer than two years for a routine dental check by more than 4,000 in less than three months.

Queensland Health returns to "business as usual" for overpayments - An automated repayment system will be activated as part of the problematic health payroll as Queensland Health works to recover staff overpayments from July 2013.

Hospital and Health Boards retain almost 90 per cent of members - Queensland's Hospital and Health Boards have retained 101 of their 117 inaugural appointees as they move into their second year in charge of local health resources.

Ministerial taskforce on health practitioner expanded scope of practice - consultation period now open.

Queensland. Health Quality and Complaints Commission

Annual health check 2012.

South Australia. (SA) Department for Health & Aged Care

Media release

Media release: SA Health celebrates excellent hand hygiene results.

Antimicrobal guidelines - February 2013.

Tasmania. Department of Health & Human Services

Response to submissions: Consultation paper - Review of the Ambulance Service Act 1982.

23 May 2013 - Jobs and opportunities expo for people with disability.

17 May 2013 - Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) communities working together on suicide prevention.

17 May 2013 - Rosebery water alert.

23 May 2013 - Getting back to health.

22 May 2013 - Increasing north west renal capacity.

19 May 2013 - Volunteers honoured as Kingston gets a full complement of paramedics.

17 May 2013 - Virtual healthcare clinic welcomed.

16 April 2013 - Helping older Tasmanians stay on their feet.

Victoria. Department of Health

Media releases

23 May 2013 - Celebrating 20 years of BreastScreen services. Minister for Health David Davis today paid tribute to the thousands of Victorian women aged over 50 who have set an example for others by having regular free mammograms through BreastScreen Victoria. Speaking at a morning tea celebrating 20 years of breast screening in Victoria, Mr Davis said the women aged over 50 who had mammograms were role models for younger generations.

17 May 2013 - Expanded Warragul hospital emergency department officially opens. Minister for Health David Davis, together with Local Member for Narracan Gary Blackwood today officially opened West Gippsland Health Care Group's revamped emergency department (ED) at Warragul Hospital.

21 May 2013 - Safety improved for women in mental health care. The Victorian Coalition Government has allocated $76,000 to improve the safety of women in mental health care at Mildura Base Hospital, Minister for Mental Health Mary Wooldridge announced today.

Measles cases in Melbourne – alert for health professionals.

May 2013 - Aged Care Assessment Service (ACAS) Contact List.

Barwon south-western clinical placement network - Newsletter April/May 2013.

Grampians clinical placement network - Newsletter April/May 2013.

Community kitchens leaflet updated May 2013.

May 2013 - Diversity news volume 52

Victoria. Office of the Health Services Commissioner

Quarterly report January 2013 - March 2013.

Western Australia. Department of Health

23 May 2013 - OD 0431/13 - The area of need policy and guidelines have been amended to incorporate administrative and regulatory changes to the area of need application process in Western Australia, and complies with the legislation Health Practitioner Regulation National Law (WA) Act 2010 which came into effect on 18 October 2010. Section 67(5) pertaining to Area of Need has amendments to existing processes and terminologies

Immunisation strategy of Western Australia 2013 – 2015 (PDF 3.14MB)

New Zealand. Ministry of Health

23 May 2013 - Preventing and minimising gambling harm: Three year service plan and levy rates for 2013/14 to 2015/16. This document sets out the Ministry's budget for and approach to funding and coordinating services to prevent and minimise gambling harm. These services comprise public health services, intervention services, research, evaluation and workforce development. Read more

23 May 2013 - Diagnosis and management of prostate cancer in New Zealand men: Recommendations from the prostate cancer taskforce. Prostate cancer is a significant burden to men's health and is now one of the most important issues facing New Zealand men. This report details the recommendations of the prostate cancer taskforce, a group of clinical experts established in 2012 to agree recommendations for the prostate cancer awareness and quality improvement programme. Read more

23 May 2013 - Prostate cancer awareness and quality improvement programme: Improving outcomes for men with prostate cancer. The prostate cancer awareness and quality improvement programme outlines the issues that currently exist for the early detection and treatment of prostate cancer in New Zealand. It provides a range of solutions and identifies the next steps for the Ministry of Health and the wider health sector. Read more

20 May 2013 - New Zealand Maternity Clinical Indicators 2011. The New Zealand Maternity Clinical Indicators are the result of collaboration between the Ministry of Health and maternity stakeholders, representing consumer, midwifery, obstetric, general practice, paediatric and anaesthetic perspectives. Read more

United Kingdom. (UK) Department of Health

UK calls for international action on antimicrobial resistance.

Report marks progress in first year of dementia challenge - The dementia challenge champion groups have produced a report on their progress since the challenge was launched in March 2012.

£260 million invested in patient safety plans - Jeremy Hunt announces technology fund for hospitals to help improve patient safety.

Canada. Health Canada

22 May 2013 - Harper Government takes action to have dangerous small, powerful magnets removed from the marketplace.

Health Canada approves proposals to change deferral period for certain blood donors - Regulatory decision will not compromise the safety of Canada's blood system

United States of America. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS)

22 May 2013 - Doctors and hospitals' use of health information technology (IT) more than doubles since 2012. HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius today announced that more than half of all doctors and other eligible providers have received Medicare or Medicaid incentive payments for adopting or meaningfully using electronic health records (EHRs).

British Medical Association (BMA)

23 May 2013 - Investment key to longer patient consultations. GPs want longer patient consultation times but not without greater investment. The BMA conference of local medical committees heard how the current ten minute appointment for patients was not sufficient for the complex conditions often presented.

23 May 2013 - Appraisal standards should be set by new national body, say GPs. GPs called for a national board to be set up in England to ensure the evidence required for GP appraisals was consistent and proportionate.

23 May 2013 - Extended training should not equal "cheap labour." Proposals to extend GP training to four years should not be used as an excuse for cheap labour, doctors at the BMA local medical committees conference agreed.

23 May 2013 - GPs reaffirm whistleblowing is part of patient care. Whistleblowers must be supported and their concerns investigated without prejudice, GPs have insisted.

23 May 2013 - GPs urge action to combat workload saturation. GPs want urgent action to address the workforce crisis in general practice.

22 May 2013 - Employ more emergency physicians to ease pressure, MPs hear. Attracting more highly trained doctors into acute care could help address the growing pressure on emergency department services, MPs heard yesterday.

20 May 2013 - Healthcare ruled out of European Union (EU) - United States (US) trade talks after BMA lobbying. Doctors leaders have secured assurances that healthcare provision will not be part of talks aimed at increasing trade between the EU and the US.

18 May 2013 - Dismay at suggested national health scheme (NHS) charge for patients. Charging patients to see their GP could have drastic consequences for the individual and the NHS, a conference declared.

American Medical Association (AMA)

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

16 May 2013 - 2012 Annual report showcases AMA's work to create a better health care future for physicians, patients, nation. Reports membership increase of more than three percent and 13th straight year of operating profits.

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