Australia: Health Alert - 5 October 2009

Last Updated: 6 October 2009
Article by Nigel Preston

Welcome to this week's edition of Health Alert. The Health Alert is transmitted on Monday of each week (unless there is a public holiday on Monday).

Health Alert is a summary of the critical judgments, legislation, press releases and news items which have come to our attention each week. Many of the summaries will contain a hyperlink.

If an item is of special interest, we may insert commentary into the body of Health Alert. However in general, Health Alert is a quick and effective means of ensuring that you are aware of significant recent changes with little or no commentary from ourselves.

If you would like to include a colleague or contact on our distribution list, or be removed from the list and not receive further issues from us, please contact Anne Arfi at with the relevant contact details.

Nigel Preston


New South Wales

NSW Supreme Court (Johnson J)

R v Thomas Sam; R v Manju Sam (No. 18) [2009] NSWSC 1003

This sentencing hearing followed the conviction of Thomas Sam and Manju Sam for manslaughter of their infant daughter, Gloria, who died as a result of criminal negligence of the two offenders.

In October 2001, Gloria Sam developed eczema on her face and behind her ears. The eczema steadily worsened and her parents, Thomas Sam and Manju Sam, were repeatedly advised to consult a dermatologist for medical treatment. Instead, Gloria was provided homeopathic treatment by Thomas Sam, a practicing homeopath with a Bachelors Degree in Homeopathic Medicine and Surgery from the Mangalore University in India. Gloria's condition deteriorated and on 5 May 2002, after returning from a trip to India with her parents, Gloria was admitted to hospital. She died several days later from disseminated infection which caused bleeding from the lungs and airways. According to the autopsy results, the infection had developed on a background of chronic eczema and significant malnutrition.

South Australia

Supreme Court of South Australia (Doyle CJ, White and Layton JJ)

Keogh v James [2009] SASC 258

This case concerned an appeal against a decision of a single judge of the Supreme Court, who allowed an appeal against a decision of the Medical Board. The appellant, Mr Keogh, filed a complaint against Dr James, a forensic pathologist, alleging that Dr James' failure to properly disclose his opinion while giving evidence at Mr Keogh's trial, constituted unprofessional conduct. Mr Keogh was subsequently convicted of the murder of Ms Cheney, who died from freshwater drowning in the bath at her home.

Dr James gave evidence at Mr Keogh's trial that, in his opinion, the bruises of Ms Cheney's left leg were indicative of grip marks. However, he did not disclose in evidence that he had carried out a histological examination of a tissue sample taken from the area, which did not confirm that the mark on Ms Cheney's left leg was a bruise. The underlying issue before the Court was whether, in the circumstances, Dr James' failure to disclose this information amounted to unprofessional conduct.

On appeal, the Full Court of the Supreme Court unanimously held that the failure to disclose the histology results was, in the unusual circumstances of the case, not a breach of Dr James' duty as an expert witness. Accordingly, Mr Keogh's appeal was dismissed.



Health Insurance (Pathology Services Table) Regulations 2009 - F2009L02964 - Health - These Regulations revoke the Health Insurance (Pathology Services Table) Regulations 2008 and prescribe a new pathology services table for the 12 month period commencing on 1 November 2009.

Health Insurance Act 1973 - Declaration of Quality Assurance Activities under section 124X (QAA No. 2/2009) - F2009L03723 - Health This Declaration provides the opportunity for psychiatrists to participate in a practice visit, which includes receiving feedback and critique of their work, to gain support and to allow for opportunities of improvement to enhance outpatient care and encourages psychiatrists to receive a practice visit from other psychiatrists to review their clinical practice, service systems or procedures and other aspects of providing psychiatric assistance so that their knowledge, skills and performance standards are maintained.

National Health Act 1953 - Amendment determination under section 99ADB - weighted average disclosed price (No. PB 95 of 2009) - F2009L03722 - Health - This Determination amends the National Health Act 1953 - Determination under section 99ADB - weighted average disclosed price (No. PB 74 of 2009).

National Health Act 1953 - Amendment Special Arrangements under subsection 100(1) - Highly specialised drugs program for public hospitals (No. PB 94 of 2009) - F2009L03701 - Health - This instrument amends the National Health Act 1953 - Special Arrangements under subsection 100(1) - Highly Specialised Drugs Program Arrangements for Public Hospitals 2009 (No. PB 61 of 2009) to provide adequate supply of pharmaceutical products for persons who are receiving treatment with highly specialised drugs at public hospitals as non-admitted patients, day admitted patients or patients on discharge.

Therapeutic Goods (Listing) Notice 2009 (No. 5) - F2009L03632 - Health - This Notice permits the use of "bovine whey Ig-rich fraction" as an active ingredient in listed medicines for oral use subject to the inclusion of advisory statements on the label.

Health Insurance Act 1973 - Declaration of Quality Assurance Activities under section 124X (QAA No. 2/2009) - F2009L03723 - Health - This Declaration provides the opportunity for psychiatrists to participate in a practice visit, which includes receiving feedback and critique of their work, to gain support and to allow for opportunities of improvement to enhance outpatient care and encourages psychiatrists to receive a practice visit from other psychiatrists to review their clinical practice, service systems or procedures and other aspects of providing psychiatric assistance so that their knowledge, skills and performance standards are maintained.

National Health Act 1953 - Amendment determination under section 99ADB - weighted average disclosed price (No. PB 105 of 2009) - F2009L03737 - Health - This Determination amends the weighted average disclosed price determined on 31 July 2009 for brands of certain pharmaceutical items containing orally administered meloxicam, and also amends the weighted average disclosed price determined on 31 July 2009 of every brand of every pharmaceutical item that has the same drug and manner of administration as the first items. –

To read this document in its entirety please click here.

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This publication is intended as a first point of reference and should not be relied on as a substitute for professional advice. Specialist legal advice should always be sought in relation to any particular circumstances.

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